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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 1987. He has also been awarded the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the PEN Voelker Career Achievement Award in Poetry for 1998; a Guggeheim Fellowship, two NEA grants, the Berlin Prize of the American Academy in Berlin, a Lila Wallace Fellowship, and prizes from PEN and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
He published a memoir, Misgivings, in 2000, which was awarded the PEN Albrand Memoir Award, and translations of Sophocles’ Women of Trachis, Euripides’ Bacchae, and poems of Francis Ponge, among others. His book of essays, Poetry and Consciousness, appeared in 1998. His latest book of poetry is Wait.
He teaches in the Creative Writing Program at Princeton University, is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and is currently a chancellor of the American Academy of Poets.
It Is This Way with Men
They are pounded into the earth
like nails; move an inch,
they are driven down again.
The earth is sore with them.
It is a spiny fruit
that has lost hope
of being raised and eaten.
It can only ripen and ripen.
And men, they too are wounded.
They too are sifted from their loss
and are without hope. The core
softens. The pure flesh softens
and melts. There are thorns, there
are the dark seeds, and they end.