Lucinda Wil­liams pays mu­si­cal trib­ute to poet dad

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT -

NEW YORK — Lucinda Wil­liams says that dur­ing a re­cent visit her fa­ther, ac­claimed poet Miller Wil­liams, calmly told her that Alzheimer’s dis­ease had robbed him of his abil­ity to write po­etry. Her 84-year-old fa­ther’s in­creased frailty lent new ur­gency to Wil­liams’ ef­fort to pay trib­ute to him. For the first time, she has put one of his po­ems to mu­sic, singing Com­pas­sion as the lead cut on her new al­bum, Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone. The al­bum ti­tle is a phrase from the poem. She was stunned when her fa­ther said that the part of his brain that en­abled him to write po­etry was no longer work­ing prop­erly. “I just bawled like a baby,” she said. “I couldn’t be­lieve it. This was my dad, the poet. It was like some­one say­ing that he couldn’t see any­more. It was part of him that was just gone. It’s like a part of him died. That’s why this is so im­por­tant to me.” The poem she chose to set to mu­sic is from Miller Wil­liams’ 1999 book, Some Jazz a While — Col­lected Po­ems. Miller Wil­liams, who worked most of his ca­reer in Arkansas and Louisiana, has been de­scribed as “the Hank Wil­liams of Amer­i­can po­etry.” He gained wide­spread recog­ni­tion when he read a poem at the 1987 in­au­gu­ra­tion of U.S. pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton.

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