Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday Morning Quote: C. K. Williams on Taste

How shifty a thing taste can be, how shitty, even one's own. I tremble to remember the poets, like Elizabeth Bishop, I dismissed out of hand, whose greatness dawned on me only later. Then there are poets I once admired and who opened the way through thickets for me, but whose work now I find clumsy and shiftless. I think we all tend to believe we can see through the vagaries of our moment to some absolute standard of judgment—this must be a characteristic of human consciousness itself—but the conviction is absurd. So, I never blab anymore about poets whose work doesn't or no longer moves me. But there are, however, thank goodness, poets the power and force of whose work once nearly knocked me down with delight and envy, and still does, so that when I read them again I feel again like an apprentice.

C. K. Williams, in his essay "On Being Old,"
given as the Poetry Society Annual Lecture (2011)
commissioned by the Poetry Society of London
and reprinted in the The American Poetry Review

Here's the whole lecture:

CK Williams Poetry Society Annual Lecture, 25th May 2011 from ncla on Vimeo.

No comments: