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C. K. Williams (Charles Kenneth Williams) Biography

(1936– ), (Charles Kenneth Williams), Lies, I Am the Bitter Name, With Ignorance, Tar, Flesh and Blood

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Patrick White (Patrick Victor Martindale White) Biography to David Wojahn Biography

American poet, born in Newark, New Jersey, educated at the University of Pennsylvania; he divides his time between living in Paris and teaching at George Mason University, Virginia. Lies (1969) and I Am the Bitter Name (1971) contain poems reflecting an anguished masculinity and sense of existential panic, together with the protest politics of the 1960s. More memorable are the long poems ‘A Day for Anne Frank’ and ‘In the Heart of the Beast— May 1970—Cambodia, Kent State, Jackson State’. Williams achieved a break-through in his collection With Ignorance (1977), deploying the long, sinuous lines and continual use of enjambements which are hallmarks of his mature work. Recalling Whitman, William Carlos Williams, and Ginsberg, his style became at once more authoritative, his social concerns more immediate as well as compellingly personal. Poems such as ‘Bread’ and ‘The Last Deaths' focus upon the margins of American society, and the victims of American foreign policy. The human dimensions of moral and political issues continue to be explored in Tar (1983) and Flesh and Blood (1987). Full of sharply observed details, constantly questioning, his poems take nothing for granted. His selected Poems 1963–1983 appeared in 1988; A Dream of Mind was published in 1992.

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