Doing Time at the Writer’s House With C.K. Williams, Chekhov, and Shakespeare

Town Topics
April 20, 2016

The Writers House is located on Locust Walk, which runs through the heart of the Penn campus, like McCosh Walk at Princeton. For just over two decades the 165-year-old cottage has been a venue for readings, seminars, lectures, and events like the April 11 memorial celebration of the life and work of poet C.K. Williams (1936-2015), who died last September.

By six o’clock, when the first reader begins reciting the first of 15 Williams poems, the day feels mild and bright after a chilly overcast morning. The Writers House is a cozy Hobbitty sort of place: imagine a cottage in the Forest of Arden or a fairytale dwelling where the tallest person in the room is the poet who can’t be seen and yet is very much there in the minds of everyone present. In the fairytale, he’d be taller than the house, the giant peering in the window at a gathering that could be taking place in a line from his poem, “The Singing,” which ends, “sometimes it feels even when no one is there that someone something is watching and listening.”

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