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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Etter

JW Williams' After Economy (Shearsman, 2017), first selection

I liked Williams' first collection, Condition of Fire, and published two selections of passages on my old Blogspot blog. Indeed, she launched her first book alongside my second, Divining for Starters, at Swedenborg Hall in London, as we were both bringing out books with Shearsman. I missed her second book (bought but I don't think read--I'll go scouring my shelves shortly) and picked up her third, After Economy, at the splendid Free Verse Poetry Book Fair this past September. I'm surprised at its combination of rawness, energy, originality, and momentum. Here are some favourite passages:

But as you say this poem

is a poem we are all writing...

from 'Iskele Super Tamam'

There is a threat coming from other people, but really it is because

there is a star inside you sucking everything toward it.


Vastness is not darkness, it is a the light within the star.

from 'Asterism'

Mother used to make us pray and it took me longest to see

my brother's head rolling off into the distance, singing.


You're not special because I chose you, you're special because you're human.

Nothing you do ever again in this body will be forgotten.

from 'The Immaculate Conception'

!my head ate! the bread!

!the oven ate! the dough!

!the dough ate! the flour!

!the flour ate! the milk!

!the milk ate! the egg!

!the egg ate! the sugar!

!the sugar ate! the salt!

!the salt stung! the wound!

!red! red! red!

!I'm dead! you said!

!did you mean! hell!

!or possibly! truth!

the second half of 'Bread Song'

I bore very slowly

my head toward the moon's light,

because my white petals

desired some touch beyond word.

opening stanza of 'Selenotropism'

life is the opening

through which we taste

last stanza of 'Basin'

slept not far from a creek

last night couldn't hear a heart beat

for the water you

forgot beneath the noise

your aspirations the cobalt

of his eyes the racing water

last stanza of 'arroyo where last you'

Running, always running

as if to escape

the bronze eagle's raised

fist of claw,

the trout's belly blushing

at death's approach.

opening of 'House of Rivers'

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