A Dream of Mind

Overview

The poetry of C. K. Williams has won an essential place in contemporary American poetry. The long lines that have characterized his style since the mid-seventies have allowed him to make ever more radical forays into what Edward Hirsch, writing in The New York Times Book Review, has called "a unique and inclusive poetry of consciousness." A Dream of Mind (1992) is dominated by the long title poem, which explores the materials and qualities of our states of consciousness with enormous flexibility and suppleness. ...

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A Dream of Mind: Poems

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Overview

The poetry of C. K. Williams has won an essential place in contemporary American poetry. The long lines that have characterized his style since the mid-seventies have allowed him to make ever more radical forays into what Edward Hirsch, writing in The New York Times Book Review, has called "a unique and inclusive poetry of consciousness." A Dream of Mind (1992) is dominated by the long title poem, which explores the materials and qualities of our states of consciousness with enormous flexibility and suppleness. Other poems make similar investigations into jealousy, family life, and psychological and intellectual constructs. Passionate, truculent, humorous, and always questioning, Williams's poetry is, in more than one sense, the poetry of contemporary experience. This challenging, exhilarating book marks a new stage in a truly groundbreaking writer's constantly evolving work.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[These] poems are nothing if not extreme. Relentless, urban, invasive—like city life itself, they are not for the faint-hearted. One of [Williams's] characteristic strategies is to dramatize the turbulence of the mind at work under terrific duress; that is, in the presence of others at moments of their greatest social weakness and vulunerability, moments when the fabric of daily life is torn open and someone is profoundly exposed . . . 'Poetry confronts in the most clear-eyed way just those emotions which consciousness wishes to slide by,' Williams wrote in his essay 'Poetry and Consciousness,' and in A Dream of Mind he has voraciously struggled to clarify that sliding, to unmask what is most painful and hidden in our psyches, and to embody that unmasking in the processes of lyric."—Edward Hirsch, The New Republic
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The voice in the poems of Williams's ( Flesh and Blood ) new collection is one at odds with itself, vacillating between the intense desire to make sense of dreams, jealousies and mortality, yet acknowledging the great difficulty of doing so. In ``Signs,'' a marvelous examination of a man's discovery of a friend's wife's betrayal, the poet is at his best. A master of nuance, and a keen observer of both the traitor and the betrayed, he carries us down the ever-curious, ever-variable paths of jealousy. The shorter poems are timely in their discussions of bankruptcy, religion, betrayal and euthanasia, but Williams is most successful in the longer, subtler narrative poems. The collection concludes with ``Helen,'' which, like this poem's subject, is a ``final, searing loveliness'': in sinewy lines, Williams describes the metamorphosis of a man's fluctuating love for his wife during her terminal illness. Though his dialectics sometimes seem relentless, the poems encompass all that is ``seemingly urgent but possibly purposeless''--the misconstructions, communions and imperfections of life. And Williams is a superb witness: ``I behold the infernal beholder, I behold / the uncanny beheld, / this mind streaming through me, its turbulent stillness.'' (June
Library Journal
Williams expresses in hard-won and finely tempered verse one of the few truly original voices of this generation. His intelligent, gripping poems weave meditation and narration into long metrical lines, never shying away from complexity in style or story. He has, at least temporarily, abandoned the short stanzaic form showcased in his last collection, National Book Critics Circle Award-winner Flesh and Blood ( LJ 5/1/87), here returning to the longer poems he unreels so well. With room to stretch, he seems more relaxed, making space for every detail, every thought, every observation. A memorable book from one of the finest poets writing today. Highly recommended.-- Louis McKee, Painted Bride Arts Ctr., Philadelphia
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374523763
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 6/1/1993
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 99
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.26 (d)

Meet the Author

C. K. Williams was born in Newark in 1936. He won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for Repair. Some other titles include Tar, The Vigil, and Flesh and Blood. He teaches at Princeton.

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Table of Contents

When 3
The Vessel 5
Allies: According to Herodotus 7
Harm 9
The Insult 10
Child Psychology 11
Chapter Eleven 13
The Loneliness 15
Scar 17
Signs 21
The Cautionary 23
Baby Talk 26
The Question 28
Meditation 30
Politics 31
Pillow Talk 33
Ethics 34
The Mirror 36
The Call 37
The Image 39
The Idyll 41
The Silence 42
Soliloquies 44
She, Though 49
The Method 63
Shadows 65
Vocations 67
The Solid 69
The Charge 71
The Crime 73
Shells 74
Room 75
History 77
The Gap 79
The Knot 81
The Fear 83
You 84
To Listen 85
The Covenant 87
Light 89
Helen 93
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