Sub­texts

Muse Times Two read­ing: Crys­tal Wil­liams and Lau­ren Camp

Pasatiempo - - CONTENT - J.L.

Dur­ing a year­long sab­bat­i­cal from teach­ing at Reed Col­lege in Ore­gon, Crys­tal Wil­liams went back to her home­town of Detroit, in­tend­ing to write a mem­oir about her fam­ily. But as she walked the city with her dog, she found his­tory and mem­o­ries tak­ing the shape of po­ems, and those po­ems co­a­lesc­ing into a book — her fourth — called Detroit as Barn. Pub­lished in 2014 by Lost Horse Press, the book was a fi­nal­ist for the Na­tional Poetry Se­ries and Cleve­land State Open Book Prize. In it, she writes of ur­ban dis­so­lu­tion, racism, grief, and love, among other top­ics, veer­ing be­tween short, tight lines and long prose po­ems. “Ex­tinc­tion, af­ter Robert Hass,” be­gins with Hass’ fa­mous first line from “Med­i­ta­tion at La­gu­ni­tas”: “All the new think­ing is about loss.” Wil­lams then turns from Hass’ philo­soph­i­cal mus­ings about words, mean­ing, and mem­ory to say, “Like a dis­eased lung,/the city is shut­ting down & the parks are the first to go.// The grass is long-toothed & wicked, not grass at all,/mostly weeds, their tough tongues cov­ered with trash.” Wil­liams is cur­rently a professor of English at Bates Col­lege in Maine, where she also serves as as­so­ciate vice pres­i­dent and chief di­ver­sity of­fi­cer. She joins Santa Fe-based poet Lau­ren Camp, pro­ducer and host of Au­dio Saucepan on KSFR-101.1 FM, who reads from her third book of poetry, One Hun­dred Hungers (Tu­pelo Press, 2016), in the fi­nal read­ing in the sixth sea­son of the Muse Times Two poetry se­ries, at 4 p.m. on Sun­day, June 5, at Col­lected Works Book­store (202 Gal­is­teo St., 505-988-4226). Camp uses her fam­ily’s his­tory as an av­enue to ex­plore Arab and Jewish iden­tity in Iraq and the United States.

Crys­tal Wil­liams

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