Friday, 8 October 2010

New Jersey Poet CK Williams

“I’ve been writing a lot of sexy poems recently”, says CK Williams, leaning into the microphone. “I’m not sure how much you can bear.”

It's 3rd October. I’m the theatre of the Martin Harris Centre in The University of Manchester. The poet is here, as part of Manchester Literature Festival, to read from his new anthology Wait.

Williams reads out various pieces of his, including “Wood”, a surreal tale about a girl who’s stomach turned into timber, and “The Dance”, in which Williams is watching a stranger singing as he walks down the road, oblivious. “This Happened” was a tragedy, featuring a beautiful 18-year-old girl falling out of a window, and “Light” shed new, um, light, on cave bats. Continuing the animal theme, “Apes” described how violent these creatures are, and hence how alike they are to us. The events described in “Bianca Burning” take place in the UK, Williams assures us. In it he tells of circus performer Bianca, and of her vagina. Can’t say I know her.

In most of his poems, Williams repeats certain phrases for impact.

For impact.

Like that.

In the Q+A session Williams, who is a Princeton University Lecturer, advises reading aloud as you write. That way if you read it out to others, you don’t have to think about the delivery- it should come naturally. He also claims that writing poetry can clear the mind. “The meaning of the poem,” he says, “resolves what the poem is about.”

The event was a little short on book copies, so when I got to the front I shook the man's hand and gave the last copy of Wait to the girl behind me. There. I'm not a total bastard after all!

Suffix: I walked out with the complimentary glass of wine and sipped it all the way back to Oldham Street, where a random Scottish pisshead stood in the middle of the road, performing a terrible a capella rendition of Kiss the Rain.

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