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Wait: Poems Paperback – Bargain Price, April 26, 2011

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In his first new collection since his monumental Collected Poems, Pulitzer-winner and septuagenarian Williams delivers his best book in a decade, and one of his best outright. Like W.S. Merwin's late-career masterpiece The Shadow of Sirius, this is the kind of book that only a lifetime-- of experience and writing--can yield. As the title implies, these poems, which often return to Williams's trademark long lines, find the poet anticipating his end and reflecting on what came before. "How do you know when you can laugh when somebody dies, your brother dies," Williams recalls asking a bunch of other boys at a funeral from his childhood. Over and over, Williams tries to compute the math of loss, the bottom line of what death means in life, and finds there is no answer: "Shouldn't he have told me the contrition cycle would from then be ever upon me,/ it didn't matter that I'd really only wanted to know how grief ends, and when?" the poem continues. Even experience can't provide solutions for the most persistent human problems, these poems attest, as in a meditation on a wasp frantic to escape window glass: "That invisible barrier between you and the world,/ between you and your truth... Stinger blunted/ wings frayed, only the battering, battered brain...."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Williams’ poems enter the brain with such force and velocity, you don’t so much read as ride them. But for all their propulsion, every element stays in sharp focus: mindscapes of fractal intricacy. Landscapes where birds peck for food, heifers rush a fence, and a girl throws down her bicycle. Williams’ poems deliver us to strange crossroads, where a thrush feeds a chick with a misshapen head and a young woman pushes an infant with Down syndrome in a stroller. Where a family comes upon a POW camp for Germans in an American city park. Williams evokes beauty and “filth / and fetor and rot.” He rails against and marvels over time. He poses impossible metaphysical questions, undermines the cherished notion of moral evolution, looks squarely at death, and mocks poetry’s pretensions. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, Williams has long been a poet of conscience and outrage, and how galvanizing are these magnificent protests against war and the entire spectrum of injustices. How cutting his laments over the cruel facts of life, how glorious his “delight in astonishing being.” Exacting and impassioned, Williams adds another electrifying and important collection to his extraordinary canon. --Donna Seaman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Reprint edition (April 26, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374532761
  • ASIN: B0096AEPB0
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,494,010 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
At the age of 74, the American poet C.K. Williams (b. 1936) has published two important books in the past few months: a study of Walt Whitman, On Whitman (Writers on Writers), and the book under review here,"Wait", a new collection of poems. Deservedly acclaimed as a poet, Williams has received the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award among many other honors during his career. With his long, broken lines of free verse, energy and bravado, and plain, down-to-earth writing, Williams poetry is in the vein of Whitman's and of his own namesake, the American poet William Carlos Williams.

Although this collection of poetry is varied in theme and moods, many of the poems constitute reflections on death and on the poet's own mortality. In the title poem, Williams meditates on the inevitablity of death and of the need to keep going and to continue with life. While seemingly morbid in tone, there is a feeling of will and strength in these poems. Thus in "Wait" Williams begins with a speech to a personified time, commenting on its ravages:

"Chop, hack, slash; chop, hack, slash; cleaver, boning knife, ax--
not even the clumsiest clod of a butcher could do this so crudely,
time, as do you, dismember me, render me, leave me slop in a pail,
on part of my body a hundred years old, one not even there anymore,
another still riven with idiot vigor, voracious as the youth I was
for whom everything always was going slowly, too slowly.
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Format: Hardcover
As a non-native speaker of English, I am greatly impressed by the brilliant usage of language in C. K. Williams' Wait. Like many other post-modernism authors, C.K. Williams is seeking originality from pieces of nature and ordinary life. C. K. Williams starts his book by claiming that "If that someone who's not me yet who judges me is always with me," (3). This sentence is well illustrated his braveness in art composition. Later this kind of courage has leaded his language into a more delicate world. Williams' usage of repetition of words or images is distinguished from many other contemporary authors. It functions more like a tool which knits the speaker's space and time, while some other authors' repetition of words is mostly seen as riddles of language. Since most of Williams' poems in this collection are based on the everyday life, the overlap of time and space is more important to the author due to his wish of exhibiting the spiritual life behind many nature images. However, when Williams confronts with the political issues, there is obvious decrease of repetition of language. The language in Williams' war poem is sharp and the rhythm becomes intensive. In his poem "Cassandra, Iraq", Williams leaves the question "Right, or Distained?" to the readers, Instead of adding epigrams in his poem, Williams chooses to look at the right or distained reality in a more fictional way. Williams says in the end of "Cassandra, Iraq" that:
Her abductor dies, too, though, in a gush of gore, in a net
That we know; she foresaw that-in a gush of gore, in a net. (43)

During my reading of this book, I also find a record of conversation between C.K. Williams and Jeffrey Brown.
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