C.K. Williams’ poetry is easy to get lost in. The style and form of his work is so intentional without the appearance of any great effort on Williams’ part. I don’t love or hate him… okay, I might hate him a little. This blog post began pretty disastrously, and I think it’s because I want to create images as seamlessly as Williams does. I’m not a poet, though. I should probably stop trying to describe what reading his poetry feels like, it’s a disservice to every English teacher I’ve studied under.
I wanted to talk about “Still Life” on this blog particularly because the poem deals with so many things I can connect to Ulmer’s Mystory project. Ultimately, it’s a poem about the breakdown of memory. The speaker recounts a day in his childhood but it is fragmented with embellishments he tacks on in an effort to recreate the childhood he no longer remembers with clarity. It’s nice enough, but the larger takeaway for me is the concept behind the poem. I think Williams appropriately chose the title “Still Life” because all memories are really just internally staged recreations of the present moment. When I worked on my Mystory, I fought against the memory exercises because I have such a hard time remembering specific moments in my childhood. Maybe that’s why I ended up enjoying the project so much, because once I worked through a few of the exercises, the memories came easier for me. I still mostly associate my childhood with the photos I’ve seen and stories I’ve heard told and retold; I know I broke my leg when I was two or three but I have only a smattering of photos and my mom’s anecdote surrounding the accident to associate with. That’s why photo albums are often called memory books, I suppose.