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3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  442 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
Nominated for the National Book Award--The eighth book by one of our greatest poets

"Always, "These gigantic inconceivables."
Always, "What will have been done to me?"
And so we don our mental armor,
flex, thrill, pay the strict attention we always knew we should.
A violent alertness, the muscularity of risk,
though still the secret inward cry: What else, what more?"
--from "Risk
Paperback, 80 pages
Published June 15th 2000 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1999)
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The Collected Poems by Wallace StevensThe Waking by Theodore Roethke77 Dream Songs by John BerrymanThe Wild Iris by Louise GlückThe Collected Poems by Sylvia Plath
Pulitzer Winners: Poetry
7th out of 100 books — 36 voters
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot DíazDevil in the Grove by Gilbert KingInterpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa LahiriA Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer EganThe Known World by Edward P. Jones
Pulitzer Books: 2000 to Present
28th out of 42 books — 11 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Bill  Kerwin
Mar 12, 2016 Bill Kerwin rated it really liked it

I like some of Williams' earlier books better--"Tar" and "Lies" are two that come to mind--because in them he told more stories, and the stories themselves were more memorable. There are still a few good stories here ("The Poet" and "King," for example), but many of these poems are more abstract, more interested in delineating psychological states than in recreating memories.

Williams writes the best long line in contemporary poetry (a free verse equivalent of the alexandrine or the hexameter),
Eunice Moral
May 28, 2015 Eunice Moral rated it really liked it
This Winner of the Pulitzer Prize is a must read. It was strong as it was provocative, it tackled different facets of life and history, even the Civil Rights era. The book covered lost, failure, marriage, love and all the inevitable things humans experience. Certain poems give you that perfect story that you can't help but be a part of it.

My favorites are: Ice, Archetypes, The Poet, Stone, Droplets, Risk, Glass, Dream, The Cup, Depths and Biopsy

Here's a snippet from the poem Depths

Or, w
Alexis Buell
Mar 28, 2016 Alexis Buell rated it liked it
well written but not my cup of tea.
Henry Dykstal
Apr 27, 2016 Henry Dykstal rated it really liked it
Shelves: since-joining
Tricky one. But I respect it. Williams has this ability to write something that almost feels sappy and instead make it incredibly honest. I don't think he writes autobiographically, but instead writes what life feels like to him. The MLK poem in particular is one hell of a piece of work, though I don't know if it's as successful as I FEEL it is successful, which is a sign he did something very right here. I don't know if I'm going to read more of him right away, but this is a pretty excellent ...more
May 21, 2014 Helen rated it it was ok
Repair is proof once again that the Pulitzer Prize committee and I have very different tastes when it comes to poetry. Not that there's anything wrong with that. There are some lovely images and metaphors here, the grandmother with her bar of soap for example in Dirt, that give you a glimpse into the heart of humanity, what it values, what it stands for, and what needs to change. But there's also a lot of navel gazing and ranting without imagery. The fact that one poem is titled "Tantrum" is, I ...more
Kelsey Williams
Apr 13, 2011 Kelsey Williams rated it it was ok
Repair by C.K Williams

Many of the poems in Repair by C.K Williams came off like prose, lines are consistently long, almost filling the entire page and he uses elaborate descriptions immersing the reader into the story.
When Williams’ poems are not long and prosy he uses a slender column of text, and what I found fascinating about his shorter poems was that he always uses strong enjambment. In his shorter lines poems almost each line end with some form of punctuation either a comma or a period.
Jul 02, 2015 Cheryl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Actual Rating: 10 of 5 thorns

Stunning. Rich imagery. Careful attention to detail. The delicate, clear, and full language immerses the reader in the poem, lets you explore, slow, and linger in the moment. Every poem makes you think differently about its subject, consider and reconsider, changing your perspective. The poems echo through one another, remnants subtly ghosting through the collection. Beautiful.
S.D. Johnson
Mar 29, 2016 S.D. Johnson rated it liked it
There were a number of extremely impressive poems in this collection such as the opening poem "Ice", "Tender" and "The Blow". The first poem really impresses with its attachment to language, the others for their use of metaphor and very deep humanity. The rest of the collection however doesn't remotely live up to these stronger works, most of the book extremely prosaic both in use of language and its hopelessly predictable content.
Oct 05, 2012 rogue rated it liked it
Maybe I'm just not where I need to be yet to properly feel these poems. I liked this collection, but something about it didn't quite come together for me. I'll have to think about it for the next couple of weeks and wait for what returns to me from this book... A tender, so easy to carry along. Stones in the brain. A block of ice. A rabbit who must be my friend if we knew how to speak.
Mar 02, 2010 Lindsay rated it it was amazing
I had to read this for a class, and I wrote a big essay on the poem "The Cup" and really fell in love with it. The funniest poem (can't think of the name now) is about a sitting in a doctor's waiting room and an old lady farts, and he wishes she wouldn't be embarrassed because he once saw a huge horse bucking and farting so loudly, so by comparison it wasn't that bad, haha
May 06, 2008 Marguerite rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Word people
Shelves: poetry
I think the best poetry helps you look at something familiar with new eyes, and Williams' poems do that for me. He is a superb craftsman as well:
"someone who lives in words, making a world from their music"
"We engorge our little sorrows"
"all that carnal scorn"
"the inwardly armored helmet of thought"
Mar 28, 2007 theri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I truly enjoyed the simplicity of his poetry. So often it is the language that gets me, odd juxtapositions and such, but this time it was the topics: ice, farts, zoos. Each one leads to a larger - but not farfetched - revelation about humanity.
Apr 09, 2016 Jim rated it really liked it
This collection by C. K. Williams won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize and was a National Book Award finalist. This is my first exposure to his poetry. I have read his translation of The Bacchae of Euripides twice and greatly admire it.
Eveline Chao
Nov 02, 2007 Eveline Chao rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, favorites
I love CK! But I must say, he's not for everyone, I think. I especially like the poem about looking into his baby grandson's eyes and the baby's brow knitting, knitting as he tries to process what he sees.
Mar 29, 2008 John rated it really liked it
Williams writes long lines--so long, they wrap around when they hit the margin. Formalists can have their say about this; I just see mastery that isn't self-conscious. "Archetypes" is a most truthful poem on marriage. Great poems from a contemporary poet who doesn't have to be Billy Collins.
Oct 28, 2012 Michelle rated it it was ok
The best poem was the title poem. There were some other really good poems. I did enjoy this ok, but over all, it just wasn't for me. Particularly the formatting, the line length bugged me. And some of the subject matter wasn't as concrete as I generally enjoy it.
Generally I liked his long lines, but the broken, hyphenated words that often came at the end were distracting. He raises a lot of questions in his poems, which is something I can relate to, yet not what I'm looking for in poetry. I want something less ponderous, more absolute.
Jul 16, 2013 Andrew rated it liked it
A balanced, pleasant collection. "King," a longish poem depicting an episode from the Civil Rights era, stands out, as does the poem "Risk." I found that poem posted here.
Leila Luqman
Jan 01, 2015 Leila Luqman rated it it was amazing
WHY is this book not on shelves in bookstores?! I honestly didn't think I'd end up giving this book 5 stars and list it as a favorite. I picked this at the library just to fill time, and oh my, I think I need a copy of my own.
Stacy Mar
Jun 10, 2014 Stacy Mar rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book and it had some really great poems in it. However, a lot of them read like prose...or merely recollections grouped into bizarre line breaks.

The book won the Pulitzer Prize, though not sure I agree it's that great, it is still worth a read.
Tom Romig
Aug 07, 2015 Tom Romig rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have to wonder why I never heard of this estimable poet before or, if I did, why it didn't register. I found him to be a relentlessly honest poet, one whose insights into the realms of thought and emotion stirred me and changed me. His language and images are vivid and compelling.
Tom Gianakopoulos
Ck's selected poems are stronger but this is the collection that won him the kewpie doll ... It's good but Selected / Collected contains his more disturbing and moving poems -- TG
Oct 09, 2015 Bryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent collection of poems from a great poet. Some of the poems are a bit scattered in their focus, but when he writes a good, well focused poem, it is good indeed.
Jul 27, 2011 cassandra rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
favorites: ice, archetypes, shock, droplets, risk, glass, space, depths, last things, the lie, the nail, the dance, biopsy, invisible mending.
Jude Alford
Jude Alford rated it really liked it
Jul 26, 2014
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Nov 27, 2009
Matthew Wilson
Not Soul
Life of a Doctor's Wife
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Jun 20, 2010
Lauren rated it it was ok
Nov 02, 2009
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  • Practical Gods
  • Different Hours
  • Late Wife
  • Moy Sand and Gravel
  • Thomas and Beulah
  • Black Zodiac
  • Walking to Martha's Vineyard
  • Blizzard of One
  • The Shadow of Sirius
  • Selected Poems
  • Failure
  • The Waking: Poems: 1933 - 1953
  • Collected Poems
  • Alive Together
  • Versed
  • Selected Poems
  • Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems
  • Middle Earth: Poems
C.K. Williams was born and grew up in and around Newark, New Jersey. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, where he majored in philosophy and English. He has published many books of poetry, including Repair, which was awarded the 2000 Pulitzer Prize, The Singing which won the National Book Award for 2003, and Flesh and Blood, the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Prize in 1987 ...more
More about C.K. Williams...

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“I believe how you looked was supposed to mean, something graver, more substantial: I'd gaze at my poor face and think, "It's still not there." Apparently I still do. What isn't there? Beauty? Not likely. Wisdom? Less. Is how we live or try to live supposed to embellish us? All I see is the residue of my other, failed faces.
But maybe what we're after is just a less abrasive regard: not "It's still not there," but something like "Come in, be still.”
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