Woman Reading to the SeaThere's a certain freedom in the long blue slant
Please join Merry Gangemi in welcoming Lisa Williams, author of Woman Reading to the Sea to Woman-Stirred Radio this Thursday, April 30th at 5 pm (eastern)for a discussion of her award-winning collection of poems
A scholar and associate professor of English at Centre College, in Denville, Kentucky, Williams holds an MA in creative writing and poetry from the University of Virginia, an MA degree in literature from the University of Cincinnati, and a BA from Belmont University.
Joyce Carol Oates calls Woman Reading to the Sea “Poems of arresting intelligence, precision, and beauty. In wonderfully crafted language, with the startling subtlety of certain of Emily Dickinson’s poems, Lisa Williams takes us into eerily imagined worlds—the interior of a jellyfish, and the interior of a glacier; she beguiles us with the most seductive of poetic possibilities... . This slender volume constitutes a journey of sorts, a pilgrimage ‘out’ that returns the questing poet, imagined as a companion ‘you,’ to her own life.”
Here is the title poem, Woman Reading to the Sea.
of its uncaring, in the wind that knocks
the surface onto rocks, and there's a dent
made in that wind by the woman who recites
straight into it, pretending the waves might hear
or that some larger being that is sea
or seeing hangs there listening, when sea air's
so clearly full of its own gusts and grunts,
inanimate uprisings. In the line
of no one's sight, her voice lost in the spray,
she feels a chilling freedom: how the foam
edges the sheets of zigzag patterned water
while gulls' shrill outbursts punctuate the sky
(one cloudy, sentimental phrase
or canvas brushed with amber, green, and rose).
What welcomes, and ignores, and doesn't question?
Sheer emptiness. It's like a husk
for her alone. It's like a shell for absence.
Without an audience, she makes a noise
swallowed by waves and wind, just as
the waves themselves---or no, just like the drops
lost in the waves, which neither care nor keep
distinctions---sweep out a place
inside an amphitheatre she imagines
rising around her, with columns that crash
instantly, like the white foam that collides
and shreds its layered castles. Her words drift,
dissolve, and disappear. A crest
of words has surged and poured into the sea.
It doesn't matter now what the lines say.
Woman-Stirred Radio broadcasts live on WGDR (91.1 fm) and streams online at wgdr.org every Thursday afternoon from 4 to 6 p.m. (eastern), with interviews, music, and guest commentaries from bi-activist Jan Steckel, British writer Nicki Hastie, and lesbian literary historian and poet, Julie R. Enszer.
Woman-Stirred Radio is funded in part by the Samara Foundation of Vermont, a non-profit, Burlington-based foundation that seeks to improve the quality of life for Vermont's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered citizens. Click on the link to find out more about Samara Foundation and its programs.