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December 4, 2019 / barton smock

{ Skin Memory – poems – John Sibley Williams }


Skin Memory
poems, John Sibley Williams
University of Nebraska Press, 2019
The Backwaters Prize in Poetry Series


How does one mark a made thing knowing that creation is not, after all, so novel? With what does silence decorate? Are we consumed by our learning to swallow? Does no being in heaven have a perfect memory?

Skin Memory, by John Sibley Williams, is a made thing that quotes, not its maker, but its maker’s eulogist. As a reader, I felt returned to a place once cleared for my pathless image. With remnant verse and far music, Williams stages yesterday as a horse teaching a bird about revision and today as a different horse singing in that same bird above a water that has nightly prayed to tomorrow asking that the name of its redacted body be voiced. Absent all victors, Williams is a shaper of gestural remains and this…

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