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In Time

Poets, Poems, and the Rest

Winner of the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and numerous other awards, C. K. Williams is one of the most distinguished poets of his generation. Known for the variety of his subject matter and the expressive intensity of his verse, he has written on topics as resonant as war, social injustice, love, family, sex, death, depression, and intellectual despair and delight. He is also a gifted essayist, and In Time collects his best recent prose along with an illuminating series of interview excerpts in which he discusses a wide range of subjects, from his own work as a poet and translator to the current state of American poetry as a whole.
In Time begins with six essays that meditate on poetic subjects, from reflections on such forebears as Philip Larkin and Robert Lowell to “A Letter to a Workshop,” in which he considers the work of composing a poem. In the book’s innovative middle section, Williams extracts short essays from interviews into an alphabetized series of reflections on subjects ranging from poetry and politics to personal accounts of his own struggles as an artist. The seven essays of the final section branch into more public concerns, including an essay on Paris as a place of inspiration, “Letter to a German Friend,” which addresses the issue of national guilt, and a concluding essay on aging, into which Williams incorporates three moving new poems. Written in his lucid, powerful, and accessible prose, Williams’s essays are characterized by reasoned and complex judgments and a willingness to confront hard moral questions in both art and politics.
Wide-ranging and deeply thoughtful, In Time is the culmination of a lifetime of reading and writing by a man whose work has made a substantial contribution to contemporary American poetry.

240 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2012

Literature and Literary Criticism: General Criticism and Critical Theory



“Williams is a poet of imaginative composure amid real-world disarray. His fastidious, refined heart camps in the middle of the worldly misery that minimizes its claims.”

New York Times

“It is a small luxury to watch a writer construct character as skillfully as Williams does. . . . [He] is a trenchant observer and a dedicated examiner of mind and motive.”

The New Republic

“A book of beautiful prose, quiet tenacity, intellectual depth and moral rigor.”

Cerise Press

“Williams’s most memorable recent prose, like his poetry, reflects on the difficulties of being an ambitious artist. Writing more as a poet than a critic, he celebrates the work that has meant the most to him as a practitioner. . . . One of the finest pieces from the new collection examines ‘odd endings’ in the work of great poets. Williams bemoans the ‘sheer mawkishness’ of Rilke’s conclusion to the Duino Elegies (an otherwise ‘infinitely compelling work’), and hears the last lines of Four Quartets (another work of great ambition that’s been crucially important to me”) as a ‘strangely thin lyrical murmur.’ Overstatement aside, Williams’s vicarious embarrassment for his heroes shoes him at his most attractive. His struggles with Rilke and Eliot mirror his own inner turmoil.”

Times Literary Supplement

Table of Contents


PART I Poetry and Poets
Unlikely Likes: George Herbert and Philip Larkin 
Amichai near the End 
Autobiography with Translation 
Lowell Later 
Odd Endings 
Some Reflections on Tragedy 
Letter to a Workshop 

PART II Answerings: Interview Excerpts

Two Encounters Early On 
Literary Models of Adolescence 
Paris as Symbol, Idea, and Reality 
Letter to a German Friend 
Nature and Panic 
On Being Old 


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