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Wait: Poems

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  107 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Wait finds C. K. Williams by turns ruminative, stalked by "the conscience-beast, who harries me," and "riven by idiot vigor, voracious as the youth I was / for whom everything always was going too slowly, too slowly." Poems about animals and rural life are set hard by poems about shrapnel in Iraq and sudden desire on the Paris métro; grateful invocations of Herbert and ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published April 26th 2011 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published April 27th 2010)
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Robin Friedman
Apr 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At the age of 74, the American poet C.K. Williams (b. 1936) published two important books: a study of Walt Whitman, "On Whitman" and the book under review here, "Wait", a new collection of poems. Deservedly acclaimed as a poet, Williams has received the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award among many other honors during his career. With his long, broken lines of free verse, energy and bravado, and plain, down-to-earth writing, Williams poetry is in the vein of Whitman's and of his own ...more
Dec 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
This is the first collection I have read by Williams, and I have to say I was impressed. I was struck by the deftness (and quickness, and frequency) with which the poet shifts focus – from a specific and tangible detail, to the state of society, to the human condition. And Williams manages to lament the sad state of current events – war, poverty, corruption, et cetera – without seeming really to preach to the reader. Or, at least, he gives the impression of wanting not to. Perhaps he does this ...more
*2,5 estrellas
Elena ( The Queen Reads )
The kids were playing again, I was playing, I didn't hear anything more from inside.

The way now sometimes what's in me is silent, too, and sometimes though never really, forgets.

Cyril Wong
Jul 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aligning with Benjamin and Celan in his seventeenth collection of poems, Williams acknowledges, with great reverence, humility and conviction, a literary lineage and his own responsibilities in the present as a critic of historical violence. Benjamin’s notion that society is built on acts of barbarism, and Celan’s “black milk of daybreak” (“milk” as life contaminated by the “black” of violence in a German concentration camp; “daybreak” referring to a sky stained by the ash of cremated Jews) in ...more
James Murphy
May 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I associate C. K. Williams with a long poetic line. When I was first introduced to his poetry it was partly an attraction to this long-line style. I have whole books of thse reliable poems, all with their lengthened lines requiring stretched breathing and mental attention. They are poems filling the page, huge collected and selected volumes, and volumes of singing, vigilant lines. One is a big volume of love poems made of those long lines so that you wonder how much more praise can be heaped on ...more
Jan 01, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
The poems collected in this book range widely in subject matter, and for the most part, Williams does them justice. "Cows" is a good example of metaphor in poetry, while "Gaffe" and "Fish" are more narrative-like, the latter about a fish head laying on a sidewalk:

"Better stay here, with eyes of glass,
like people in advertisements,
and without bodies or blood,
like people in poems."

Another of Williams's strengths appears in his more philosophical pieces ("Brain", "Teachers", "Ethics", and "Apes").
Dec 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hearing a reading of these poems, and being told by the publisher that the long lines don't really care about linebreaks, I am glad I had a chance to hear Charlie read them aloud in person just before Thanksgiving, in Rochester, NY. The intricacy of a poem like "The Gaffe" which travels from a childhood memory to present where it still chafes, alongside just what it is to live with all these people in oneself, especially the critical one, is delightful and reassuring. I enjoy the sense of humor, ...more
Sep 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good collection of poems from Williams. I grew bored of some of his more overtly political poems such as "The United States of America" and "Still, Again, Martin Luther King." Im saddened by the fact that our political leaders and climate seem to have worn Williams out and left him with a rage that needed to be released. On the other hand, the collection also includes some increibly beautiful lines that I'll always remember. On line, which gives the book it's title, reads "We, whose ...more
Erika Dreifus
I was drawn to this book by a review on Tablet ( that focused on the volume's closing poem, "Jew on Bridge." That poem remains, for me, a standout in this volume (indeed, it merits its own section; the book comprises four).

Among the other poems I am likely to remember for a long time: "Prisoners, "Roe vs Wade," and "Shrapnel." I'm especially intrigued by the evident inspiration Williams draws in some of these poems from other literary works.
Mar 30, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Some poems were a 2 to me, some were 4s. Apes might have been a five. My favorite fragment from it, "It's occurred to me I've read enough; at my age all I'm doing is confirming my sadness. Surely the papers: war, terror, torture, corruption— it's like broken glass in the mind."
Jude Brigley
Mar 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Do not remember reading this poet before. My favourite poem is typical of a teaher/student. It was 'Teachers'. Do we only appreciate our teachers fully in retrospect?
'I used to imagine her admirable wisdom
would magically migrate from her mind to mine'
Very assured writer. from the Academy of American Poets
Prepare for the 2010 Poets Forum in New York City (October 28-30) by reading Williams's newest book of poetry, and check out the Poets Forum 2010 bookshelf for the latest collections by each of the poets participating in the Poets Forum. Happy reading!
Elizabeth StClair
Feb 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a lovely collection of poems. I had so many favorites that I lost track. His writing was the perfect mix between honesty and intelligence. It made me think but it also made my dream.... if that makes any sense. I plan on reading more of his work in the near future.
Tom Romig
Aug 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Always surprising, moving, rewarding.
Maughn Gregory
Oct 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, poetry
I hardly every categorize a book as both philosophy and poetry - but here's one! I'm a recent but ardent Williams fan.
Nov 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
A brilliant wordsmith, Williams' poetry covers the gamut of life.
Steven Farmer
Jul 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Matthew Wilson
Oct 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On the metro. Apes. We. Teachers.

The standout poems for me in this collection.
Jun 24, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, grad-school
I see the value in this, but it's just not for me.
Mar 09, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Williams is a philosophical, cerebral poet.
Good stuff...just not so much my thing.
May 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Read my review on New York Journal of Books:
'I allow myself the thought that though I'm probably to her again / as senseless as that table of my youth, as wooden, as unfeeling, perhaps there was a moment I was not.'

- from 'On the Métro'.
C K Williams is one of the premier poets of our time, and this satisfying collection contains poetry that will engage, perplex, and mystify anyone who reads it.
Sarah Rosenberger
I liked some of his poems, but others just made me feel like I was being lectured by an old, liberal English professor. Which I guess I was.
Feb 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was one of the 2011 RUSA Notable Books winners.
For the complete list, go to
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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 ...more
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