OVERRIDE

All at Once

Prose Poems

C. K. Williams

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Short, sharp musings on things profound and mundane (and sometimes both) from the Pulitzer Prize winning poet

C. K. Williams has never been afraid to push the boundaries of poetic form—in fact, he’s known for it, with long, lyrical lines that compel, enthrall, and ensnare. In his latest work, All at Once, Williams again embodies this spirit of experimentation, carving out fresh spaces for himself and surprising his readers once more with inventions both formal and lyrical.
     Somewhere between prose poems, short stories, and personal essays, the musings in this collection are profound, personal, witty, and inventive—sometimes all at once. Here are the starkly beautiful images that also pepper his poems: a neighbor’s white butane tank in March “glares in the sunlight, raw and unseemly, like a breast inappropriately unclothed in the painful chill.” Here are the tender, masterful sketches of characters Williams has encountered: a sign painter and skid-row denizen who makes an impression on the young soon-to-be poet with his “terrific focus, an intensity I’d never seen in an adult before.” And here are a husband’s hymns to his beloved wife, to her laughter, which “always has something keen and sweet to it, an edge of something like song.”
     This is a book that provokes pathos and thought, that inspires sympathy and contemplation. It is both fiercely representative of Williams’s work and like nothing he’s written before—a collection to be admired, celebrated, and above all read again and again.

REVIEWS

Praise for All at Once

Praise for C. K. Williams

"Williams’s scorching honesty has always been his calling card. His poetry proceeds not from a verbal impulse, not from a lyrical impulse, not even from a prophetic or visionary impulse, but from a moral impulse. Everything, in his work, is held up to the most exacting ethical scrutiny, beginning with the poet himself. Implicitly, and often explicitly, this scrutiny extends to the very act of writing poems in the first place. And so while other poets sometimes make a show of questioning the value of poetry, Williams really means it." —William Deresiewicz, The New York Times

"C. K. Williams’s familiar long lines create tremendous space within his poems. From beginning to end, a poem might cross remarkable distances, its roomy stanzas opening a world of association and resonance, lines unreeling from an observed fact or remembered scene to deepened understanding of the way things are, the way things were . . . Williams observes and transcribes human experience with remarkable tenderness and charity . . . One feels in the textures of Williams’s writing a pure conviction and a commitment to seeing a higher dimension to poetry. When Williams writes of educating the soul and of the spiritually transforming power of beauty, he is convincing." —Ian Tromp, Poetry

"Williams’s one faith is that things can be said, that subjects can be talked about, that poetry can seek to clarify as much as to beguile . . . Sentence construction, one of the more neglected features of the poetic arsenal, is Williams’s great strength, his ‘Ancient Mariner’–like power to claim and hold the reader’s uncomfortable but rewarded assent. Developed in particular in the long lines for which Williams first came to attention a generation back, this power of construction serves to clarify at the same time as to include, to guarantee commitment to the matter in hand, and to lend its own extensive music as a source of authority." —Sean O’Brien, The Guardian

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • C. K. Williams

  • C. K. Williams’s books of poetry include Flesh and Blood, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award; Repair, which won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry; and The Singing, winner of the National Book Award. Williams was awarded the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize in 2005. He has written a critical study, On Whitman; a memoir, Misgivings; and two books of essays, the most recent of which is In Time: Poets, Poems, and the Rest. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
  • C. K. Williams Catherine Mauger
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Available Formats and Book Details

All at Once

Prose Poems

C. K. Williams

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