Tonight at Drew University

Pulitzer Prize winning poet C.K. Williams will be reading. I highlighted his work in a previous post. My son and I will be there. Husband says he draws the line at poetry readings, even though it (poetry) was one of his best subjects at Philadelphia Biblical University. Update to come. For now, here’s a reprint (and, purely for your enjoyment, the marginally related updated photo above—symmetry, beauty, etc.):

Because he was always the good-hearted one, the ingenuous one, the one
      who knew no cunning,
who, if “innocent” didn’t quite apply, still merited some similar connota-
     tion of naïveté, simplicity,
the sense that an essential awareness of the coarseness of other people’s
      motives was lacking
so that he was constantly blundering upon situations in which he would
      take on good faith
what the other rapaciously, ruthlessly, duplicitously and nearly always
     successfully offered as truth. . .
All of that he understood about himself but he was also aware that he
     couldn’t alter at all
his basic affable faith in the benevolence of everyone’s intentions and that
     because of this the world
would not as in romance annihilate him but would toy unmercifully with
     him until he was mad.

C.K. Willams  [HT: John La Grou]

Update 2/9/09: Poetry is meant to be read aloud, by someone who loves words and lets them roll off the tongue in just the right cadence with respect and passion, or roughness or subtlety …  as the words demand. C.K. Williams knows how to read his poems. Some were deadly serious; others light and funny. The hour flew by.

He began with older work, about dogs, women, intestinal gas, death, beauty, a suicide (the only one I didn’t really care for as he romanticised the act); then he moved on to a batch of unpublished poems about aging (and, with it, knowing both too much and too little), what he believes in (poetry) and Roe vs. Wade—that one was quite shocking, and personal, as apparently his poems are apt to be. They’re personal in the way that a gifted writer finds words the rest of us lack ,or, don’t take time to string together, to acurately describe the world and its mysteries.

Williams grew up in Newark, NJ, as did my father. (I was born there.) He was a Beatnik, Williams that is, and lived for a time in Paris. Maybe that’s why I liked him so much. 

I bought his Collected Poems, and asked him to sign it. Something I rarely do. What’s a man’s signature, after all? Especially for a book editor who’s seen what goes on behind the curtain. It’ll be a gift of remembrance for my son. He liked the old man quite a bit. I realized on the long drive home that I passed on to both my sons a love of words, and poetry. Now there’s a rare gem for a mother: something to be proud of with no guilt attached.

There will be readings by celebrated poets most evenings into next week. I may return on Tuesday night, if there’s nothing else on the agenda. They’re being held in historic Mead Hall, pictured below. Stunning building, given by a capitalist for the education of future Methodist pastors. A statue of Francis Asbury graces the lawn. Asbury, a circuit-riding preacher, is the Methodist for whom Asbury Park, NJ, is named. Wonder if Bruce knew that when he made it famous

 

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