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Featured Memorial | C.K. Williams

C.K. Williams Obituary

11/2/1936 - 9/20/2015| Visit Guest Book
(Photo by Ulf Andersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ulf Andersen/Getty Images)
C.K. Williams, whose poems emphatically observed morality and suffering from perspectives as lofty as politics and as intimate as the cancer that ended his life, died Sunday, the Associated Press reports. He was 78.

According to the Associated Press, author Joyce Carol Oates, a close friend and former colleague at Princeton University, first reported Williams’ death.

Born Charles Kenneth Williams in 1936, he was raised in Newark, New Jersey and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. After several years of work as a part-time psychotherapist, editor, and ghost-writer in Philadelphia, Williams turned to teaching and served on the faculty of numerous major universities, including Columbia, NYU, Boston University, George Mason University, and Princeton.

Williams’ long, conversational writing style drew frequent comparisons to Walt Whitman. Since the publication of his first book of poetry, “Lies,” in 1969, Williams has won nearly every major poetry award. “Flesh and Blood” won the National Book Award in 1987, followed by a Pulitzer Prize in 2000 for “Repair.” Williams earned another National Book Award in 2003 for “The Singing.” Williams own poems were utilized to depict his life in the 2012 biopic "Tar."

According to the New York Times, Williams has a new book, “Selected Later Poems,” scheduled for release this Tuesday. Another collection, “Falling Ill,” was completed just before his death.

The New York Times reports that Williams is survived by his wife, Catherine Mauger; son, Jed; daughter, Jessie Williams Burns; sister, Lynn Williams; brother, Richard; and three grandchildren.
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Published in The New York Times on September 23, 2015
WILLIAMS--C.K. The American Academy of Arts and Letters notes with sorrow the death of our esteemed colleague, whose passionate poems move consistently toward sympathy and moral enlightenment. Read Obituary
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