The American poet C.K. Williams died of cancer. Williams, born in 1936, was one of those poets non-poets read — an increasingly rare breed. He won many prestigious awards, but his greatest accomplishment was voice on the page — candid, confident, digressive, patient and workmanlike (if Montaigne was). The Williams voice remained true through a number of style shifts over the course of his long career. Williams’ poems showed him to be the kind of man with whom valuable time could be spent, perhaps even if hardly a word was exchanged. C.K. Williams was sturdy, durable, tough, moral, and open — as he tirelessly examined a world that only partially display those qualities.
Despite appealing to general readers in a way that many poets don’t, Williams was nevertheless a favorite of fellow poets and writers. Here are some tweets that honor him (a few even before his final day):
RIP C. K. Williams, indispensable poet, American heart, world citizen, deep soul, sweet man.
— Todd Gitlin (@toddgitlin) September 21, 2015
maybe cry just a little, a little.” C.K. Williams, “Cancer”
— Joyce Carol Oates (@JoyceCarolOates) September 21, 2015
“Shouldn’t grief have a form of its own?”-C.K. Williams http://t.co/5oHtFRGCMD
— Kenyon Review (@kenyonreview) September 21, 2015
❤️ to the GREAT poet, C.K. Williams. Pulitzer Prize winner and a GIANT in the poetry world. My… https://t.co/hVGFiJqwJB
— James Franco (@JamesFrancoTV) September 21, 2015
A man we loved very much, C.K. Williams, died today. We loved you so much, Charles.
— John Timpane (@jtimpane) September 21, 2015