C.K. Williams passed away on September 20, of cancer. In Hopewell, mere miles from here. When I walked into Labyrinth Books last week, I actually burst into tears—awkward, ugly, unexpected—when I saw the cover of his Collected Poems. I just couldn't hold it together to make it through the checkout line without shaking. The book felt as heavy as a brick.
As a former student of his, everything I’ve been reading, watching, and listening to surrounding his work and his impact—from Princeton to Paris, from Newark to New York, from poetry to translation—matters a lot to me. I think the more stories we have, and the more we share his work, the better. It keeps his legacy urgent, of the moment, and alive.
The truth is I chose Princeton first for its poetry program, and second because I could afford it. (I moved out on my 18th birthday; I paid my own way.) The chance to study with Williams and the roster of rock star writers on the faculty seemed like a new world, a way out.