C.K. Williams

I’ve only recently become acquainted with the American poet C.K.Williams, whose work negotiates a delicate balance between sharply focused observations of common ‘reality’ and a sense of half-glimpsed alternatives by which it is haunted. ‘Light’ is a classic example, poising vivid recollection of a visit to a bat-filled cave with the underworld visions of Dante’s Inferno. The bats focus the meditation, both as common images of life’s dark, uncanny side (think popular Halloween imagery, and then remember Halloween is the Eve of All Hallows, the traditional day for commemorating the dead) and as reminders of how our literary culture has also invested those uncanny realms with unsettling presences (think Dante, of course, but notice too how the bats’ ‘squeaking and squealing’ recall Homer’s ‘twittering shades’ of the dead).

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