I’ve been thinking about Emmett Williams a lot lately, even more since coming back from Amsterdam with a copy of his poem Sweethearts in hand. I’ve been thinking about the kind of verse that crops up in Sweethearts, where the word and its letters in their order become an engine to generate this whole world, and it saddens me that Williams was the only one exploring this particular form as deeply as he was. Like the sestina or the pantoum, two other highly structural and underused poetic forms, Williams’s form generates a tone and type of poetry all its own. I’ve explored the form just a bit already in a poem called Wastebasket. This is a longer and I think more successful attempt, written at the request of a friend doing a collaborative project whose submissions are acquired by way of a gift circle among contributors. When the circle turned toward me, I found myself looking at a short, silent film of a man standing on a windy bridge in the snow. I was asked to use the film in my response. Doing this poem was such an intense and quietly rewarding experience, and I hope to make many more of them as time goes on. I would like to see Williams’s form alive and flourishing, even in just a small way. The poem reads: “No owls as we wake now. As flakes fake snow, we fake OKs. So now we owe. Lakes soak. Oaks flake. No snow owls. No snow as we wake.”
© Copyright Rob Giampietro 2000–2017.