Muse Times Two reading: Crystal Williams and Lauren Camp
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.