Thursday, April 13, 2017

Falling Ill

by C. K. Williams (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
This posthumous collection of poems, written as the author was dying, of multiple myeloma, is a gentle but unflinching confrontation with mortality. Beginning with the moment of diagnosis (“interesting no?”), and signing off with “I want to wish you goodbye but don’t dare,” Williams records the progress of his disease and his halting acceptance of the end of life. A steady lilt, alternately peaceful and hallucinatory, presides over the work, which is devoid of punctuation except for frequent question marks. Uniform in construction, with five three-line stanzas, the poems feel less like a series than like a single valedictory utterance.