By C. K. Williams 1936–2015
A girl who, in 1971, when I was living by myself, painfully lonely, bereft, depressed,
offhandedly mentioned to me in a conversation with some friends that although at first she’d found me—
I can’t remember the term, some dated colloquialism signifying odd, unacceptable, out-of-things—
she’d decided that I was after all all right ... twelve years later she comes back to me from nowhere
and I realize that it wasn’t my then irrepressible, unselective, incessant sexual want she meant,
which, when we’d been introduced, I’d naturally aimed at her and which she’d easily deflected,
but that she’d thought I really was, in myself, the way I looked and spoke and acted,
what she was saying, creepy, weird, whatever, and I am taken with a terrible humiliation.

C. K. Williams, “Shame” from Selected Poems. Copyright © 1994 by C. K. Williams. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC, All rights reserved. Caution: Users are warned that this work is protected under copyright laws and downloading is strictly prohibited. The right to reproduce or transfer the work via any medium must be secured with Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.

Source: Selected Poems (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 1994)

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Poet C. K. Williams 1936–2015

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Relationships, Living, Disappointment & Failure, Love, Youth, Realistic & Complicated

 C. K. Williams


Hailed by poet Paul Muldoon in the Times Literary Supplement as “one of the most distinguished poets of his generation,” C.K. Williams created a highly respected body of work, including several collections of original poems, volumes of translations and criticism, and a memoir. Williams was especially known as an original stylist; his characteristic line is extraordinarily long, almost prose-like, and emphasizes characterization . . .

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SUBJECT Relationships, Living, Disappointment & Failure, Love, Youth, Realistic & Complicated

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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