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Repair: Poems Paperback – June 15, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (June 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374527067
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374527068
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #714,687 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Randall Jarrell famously compared the likelihood of writing a good poem to that of being struck by a meteor. If that's the case, C.K. Williams has been defying the odds for almost 20 years, ever since he published Tar. That collection, which appeared in 1983, marked the debut of his poetic signature: the lengthy, elaborately discursive line, packed to the gills with novelistic detail. And since then, with Flesh and Blood and The Vigil, he's only refined his methods. At times Williams seems to be working that no man's land between prose and verse, daring us to read him as a rococo Raymond Carver--an Ash Can School unto himself. But he always manages to pull one more syntactical miracle from his hat, reminding us that he's a poet after all, and a superlative one.

In any case, he continues his winning streak with Repair. Here as before, Williams remains a meticulous observer of the natural world. But always he invests nature with meaning--and in his brilliant hands, the pathetic fallacy becomes anything but pathetic. Note, for example, how the subject of "Tree" takes on a very human quotient of knowledge and neurosis:

One vast segment of tree, the very topmost, bows ceremoniously against a breath of breeze,
patient, sagacious, apparently possessing the wisdom such a union of space, light, and matter should.

Just beneath, though grazed by the same barely perceptible zephyr, a knot of leaves quakes hectically,
as though trying to convince that more pacific presence above of its anxieties, its dire forebodings.

Elsewhere Williams works his magic on a pair of shoes, an urban rainstorm, racial tension, or (in what might be a first in his oeuvre) the "really quite inoffensive pop" of a stranger's flatulence. These subjects, too, lead him straight to his great preoccupation, which is consciousness itself. But not surprisingly, the 62-year-old poet has begun to concoct his own Intimations of Mortality, which focus precisely on that slow or rapid extinction of mind. "Last Things," "Not Soul," and "House" are all exquisite, melancholy variations on this single theme. Yet "Tender" is the real masterpiece in this category: a compact, deeply surprising lyric in which a dinghy (!) becomes a figure for our mortal imaginings: "An inflatable tender, tethered to the stern, just skims the commotion of the wake: / within it will be oars, a miniature motor, and, tucked into a pocket, life vests. / Such reassuring redundancy: don't we desire just such an accessory, faith perhaps, / or at a certain age to be comforted, not daunted, by knowing one will really die?" No sane reader can hear this poem without concluding that Williams has been struck by a meteor once again. --James Marcus --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In his long career Williams has performed a rare feat, forging a distinctive style by great labor without a late flop into exhausted mannerism. Past 60, newly a grandfather, he is still a foxy tinkerer, offering a good deal of variety in his characteristic long line, snaking into solid stanzas, couplets and even prose blocks. He tries out new moods, ecstatic italics here (Open, she says, open up!); a bracing gust of Baudelaires cool irony there; but his project remains consistent: rendering the broadstroke conflicts of consciousness as it arrives at points of decision. Risk asks if we unknowingly crave disaster. An exchange of looks with a hare from within a stranded train allows his mind that trick of trying to go back into its wilder part. The Nail tries to come to terms with how a dictator had gruesomely disposed of enemies (its we who do such things). Throughout, Williams, following Lowell and Berryman, sets off after the sources of the self, as in House: Down under all to the ancient errors, indolence, envy, pretension, the frailities as though in the gene;/ down to where consciousness cries Make me new, but pleads as pitiably, Cherish me as I was./ Down to the swipe of the sledge, the ravaging bite of the pick; rubble, wreckage, vanity: the abyss. The individual poems dont accumulate narrative momentum or add up to a sequence, as previous works have. But Williamss unreconstructed liberal agony (the flip side to Billy Collinss bourgeois-surrealist conflict resolution), continues to exude a Lowell-like earthiness, and earnest near-candor.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 26, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I have been an admiring reader of C.K. Williams since picking up a copy of "With Ignorance" from a new publication shelf in my college library, some twenty years ago. I have continued, volume after volume with Williams. Something that I can say for only a few poets. In "Repair" Williams is moving into new territory, beginning to move away exclusively from the long line that has come to represent his work. The poetry of the older Williams is as distinguished as his earlier work. He has found a new sense of calm and belonging not found in previous books. I can only recommend that someone who is new to C.K. Williams, should search out his earlier volumes. He is a great American poet and he continues only to satisfy.
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24 of 31 people found the following review helpful By V. Woodhead on November 12, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Williams has nor stayed with the uniformly long and sometimes exhausting lines of his previous work, and shows us what can be done with briefer forms. The book reminds me of a visit to an ancient English home, in which a visitor wondered "How do they get that wonderful finish?" An attendant leaned forward and said "400 years of elbow grease Madam." The poems in 'Repair' are complex and multi-layered, the evidence of many years of elbow grease, and much mature reflection. I am privileged to be able to learn from them.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 24, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
C.K. Williams poems wound us to heal us. They dig deep into the psyche, revealing our intimate thoughts, our guilt, our attempts at love, our failures and little triumphs. He is the most psychologically profound poet we have writing in America today. His skill is dazzling and he keeps the reader closely with him, building a tension that is at once inviting and beguiling. We feel that we're living inside his head and he is living inside ours as we read his amazingly wrought poems. This is poetry unlike any other of our times. C.K. Williams books are worth every minute and penny we spend with them. Accessible and penetrating. Imaginative and rich, but most of all honest and true. Deeply questioning and loving, this poet blames and forgives us for all at the same time that he heals our loneliness.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover
C.K. Williams's REPAIR is an excellent volume of poetry. Because it was the first volume of his that I have read, I wasn't sure what to expect; however, he pleasantly surprised me with clear diction, vividly sharp imagery, and excellent subject matter. One main negative aspect of the book is Williams's tendency to become too abstract. Still, his great poems, such as "Ice," "The Poet," and "King," with their impressive range, lilting and forceful tones, and meditative facets, more than made up for any abstruse statements on his part. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a vibrant and realistic poet in an age of volubility and fake sentimentality.
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By Cullen on April 12, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I couldnt find this book anywhere after I was informed days prior to my purchase that it was mandatory. I got an A on the major assignment because of the promptness. PERFECT. Thank you again!
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