Joe Williams


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A goodbye post from an "Alumverser"
What can you say about Al? That he was pricked by a rose at an early age and has had it in for flowers ever since? That maybe he really is a cover identity for a group of, say, half a dozen people--did you ever check the range of times that his posts were posted? Is he one of these people who doesn't need sleep or what? Ever notice he doesn't have a "real" address? Supposedly raising two kids in a dorm? Uh huh.... At any rate, he gently set us right when we were wrong, allowed us to stray, but not too far, and, unless I'm mistaken, found himself more and more caught up--more than he himself expected--in our proceedings as time passed. It seems to me that over the months the level of discourse rose and the sharpness of our analysis increased. Which is a way of saying we learned something. In the Penn SAS article someone named Joe was quoted as remarking that it was hard to mentally fix alumversers as coherent personalities with a distinct point of view. There was a singular, and most instructive, exception to this. The Professor. You always knew where to find Al. He was with the words. Because poetry is words. And whenever we strayed or difficulties arose, he took us back to the words, and we found ourselves again. Because the words is the poetry. And though it almost sounds trivial, this is what I learned: if in doubt, go back to the words. Beyond that I'm grateful for the introduction to Stein who is amazing (and even more amazingly I had always previously bypassed somehow), the Language Poets who are already beginning to entertain and enlighten me, the reintroduction to Dickenson who I had insufficiently appreciated, the metaview of the modern school in our poetry, and the few words/much thought level of ingress and analysis.
Joe Williams (Col '72)