Cover Image: Invisible Mending

Invisible Mending

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Just in time for Poetry Month comes Invisible Mending: The Best of C. K. Williams. This generous (272 pages, Farrar, Straus and Giroux ) volume of selected poems includes work from his earliest (and often hard to find) books up to his posthumous Falling Ill.
C. K. Williams (1936 – 2015) was a prolific, inventive poet whose creative trajectory changed and deepened over time. Alan Shapiro, in an introduction to this volume, charts Williams growth into his characteristic long lines that use “all the tools of essay writing and prose fiction…a poetry that can think about what it’s feeling and feel intensely the consequences of its thought.”

This is an important book for Williams’ fans and a wonderful primer for those just getting to know his work. Here is “Tar,” one of his most famous poems:

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Following in the tradition of poetry in the USA, beginning with Walt Whitman, Williams favors long lines, though not exclusively. His choice of line length allows him to create narratives as rich as short stories, while adapting a metaphysics of space in which he connects the physical with qualitative states as in his poems on the analytics of dreams and dreaming from his A Dream of Mind. His meditations on poets important to his work, the ones he’s read and the ones he knew, are pause for our consideration of the world of poetry and serious poets. His love poems tremble with a physicality in his descriptions of the body toward a deeper affinity to the sensations of Whitman’s body electric.

Selections from almost fifty years of poems of observations of strangers, nature, love, aging, and death, this is a volume essential to your poetry collection.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC

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To start: I don't think I had truly read C. K. Williams before this.

At least, not with any depth or focused attention. His work had appeared sporadically in various anthologies I'd waded through during my degree and after, when I was trying to read "more broadly" (will I ever be able to stop trying?). A powerhouse of modern American poetry—especially recognized by his trademark long lines and almost prosaic style—Williams remains a hugely influential voice, and I knew it was beyond time to sit down with his work.

And I was truly blown away.

<i>Invisible Mending: The Best of C. K. Williams</i> is a stunning collection of pieces spanning the entirety of Williams' writing. As a collection, it encapsulates the spirit of the poet and his particular lens on the world: unflinching, egotistical (in a self-honest sense), and deeply insightful, veering into the psychoanalytical.

Throughout his work, Williams makes us look at the fears and loves and hopes and base desires behind our words and actions and lives. I will order a physical copy of this collection as soon as it releases so I can revisit these poems for as long as I can read.

"Because no one came, I slept again, / and dreamed that you were here with me, / snarled on me like wire, / tangled so closely to me that we were vines / or underbrush together, / or hands clenched."
- A Day for Anne Frank

<i>Thank you to NetGalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for early access to this collection!</i>

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C.K. Williams (Charlie, to his friends) wasn't just "one of the most distinguished poets of his generation," as Paul Muldoon said. He was so absolutely inventive that he basically invented a brand new poetic style, one marked by expansive lines of at least twenty syllables that allow space for characterization, description, philosophical investigation, and dramatic development. As Averill Curdy once wrote, Charlie "is one of the poets of his generation who is still singing, who hasn’t retreated into a pokey nostalgia or silence. His poems remain vital to me in their attempt to address the contemporary world, and I find the attempt itself moving." Today, thanks to posthumous collections such as this, both he and his work continue to be exactly that.

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