On Whitman by C. K. Williams
(Writers on Writers)

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Synopsis

In this book, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet C. K. Williams sets aside the mass of biography and literary criticism that has accumulated around the work and person of Walt Whitman, and attempts to go back to Leaves of Grass as he first encountered it, to explore why Whitman's epic "continues to inspire and sometimes daunt" him. The result is a personal reassessment and appreciation of one master poet by another, as well as an unconventional and brilliant introduction--or reintroduction--to Whitman.

In brief, thematic chapters with many quotations from Leaves of Grass, Williams explores the innovations, originality, and sheer genius of the poetry that has become, as he puts it, "the unconscious" of much of the poetry of America and the world. Williams pays particular attention to the music of Whitman's poetry, its blazing perception and enormous human sympathy, its affecting anecdotes, and its vast cast of characters, as well as to the radical nature of Whitman's first-person speaker, his liberating attitude toward sex, and his unconventional ideas about death. While conveying the singularities of Whitman's work, Williams also shows what Whitman had in common with other great poets of his time, such as Baudelaire, and the powerful influence Whitman had on later poets such as Eliot and Pound.

Beautifully written and rich with insight, this is a book that refreshes our ability to see Whitman in all his power.

 

About C. K. Williams

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C. K. Williams is professor of creative writing at Princeton University. He is the author of eighteen books of poetry, including Repair and The Singing, as well as several books of prose, mostly recently On Whitman.
 
Published April 18, 2010 by Princeton University Press. 208 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for On Whitman

Publishers Weekly

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This jewel of a book, by one poet on another in the Writers on Writers series, does nothing less than show that Walt Whitman is the very unconscious and Paraclete of all American poets working toda

Mar 08 2010 | Read Full Review of On Whitman (Writers on Writers)

The New York Times

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C. K. Williams’s poetry-rich eulogy of Walt Whitman sees him as the forefather of the carefree physicality of the 1960s.

Jul 02 2010 | Read Full Review of On Whitman (Writers on Writers)

BC Books

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"Set a poet to catch a poet" seems to be the principle Princeton University Press used to ...Prize-winning poet explains Walt Whitman to the general reader

Aug 19 2010 | Read Full Review of On Whitman (Writers on Writers)

The Telegraph

My Captain!” But this book reads like a man who, having fallen .

Jun 12 2010 | Read Full Review of On Whitman (Writers on Writers)

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