Poem Review #3

Carmen Johnson

Poem Review #3

C.K. Williams The Singing

In his collection of poems, The Singing, C.K. Williams takes his readers through a wide range of conceit and style. The thing that most caught my eye about this collection of poems was the many different styles the poetry had, along with the many different topics used throughout the collection. While some of the poetry was hard to understand and took a couple of reads for me to catch, most of the poetry was very understandable and relatable to. His conceits range from humor to sarcasm to being absolutely serious, giving the collection a nice balance.

Williams uses sarcasm and humor in some of his poetry to show certain points about life, like his poetry writing for instance. In the poem Doves, the fourth stanza reads as follows, “So few poems entire,/such a meager handful/of precise recollections of paintings:/detritus instead, junk,/numbers I should long ago/have erased, inane/ “information,” I’ll doubtlessly/take with me to the grave./So much crap.” Here Williams is talking about his own poetry in a very sarcastic and self-critical manner, showing that even though he takes what he does seriously, he still has a sense of humor about it.

It wouldn’t do this collection justice if I didn’t talk about the range of styles Williams used in his book. While some of the poems are broken into traditional stanzas, many of his poems take the form of prose, and others yet seem to be just lone sentences on the page. For example, in his poem Narcissism, the poem reads as follows, “…The word alone sizzles like boiling acid, moans like molten lead,/but ah my dear, it leaves the lips in such a sweetly murmuring hum.” This poem is only two lines long, and doesn’t look like a poem at all! However, the language use within it does make is sound like a poem, which is I guess what the most important thing is J.

Williams usage of language is absolutely stunning in some parts of his collection. He uses very strong words and creates beautiful mental images for the reader about everyday things. For example, in his poem entitled Night, the first stanza starts out as reading, “Somehow a light plane/coming in low at three/in the morning to a local airstrip/hits a complex of tones/in its growl so I hear mingled/with it a peal of church bells/ swelling in and out/of audibility, arrhythmic” (1-8). When I read this stanza, I could almost hear what he was talking about, because it’s something that a lot of people can relate to. We’ve all heard a plane before, and the language he uses to describe its sound like “growl” and “swelling” shine a new light on something old.

Overall, I enjoyed this collection of poetry. Even though it was a bit cryptic at times, it was a relaxing read overall due to the language choice and vivid imagery. However, unlike the other two collections of poems I read, I didn’t feel like the ending of this collection was as strong as the other ones, which is something I wish Williams would have done because ending the collection with a strong line or poem leaves a lasting impression upon the reader.