“As One Fire Consumes Another” by John Sibley Williams— A New Kind of Poetry

Williams, John Sibley. “As One Fire Consumes Another”, Orison Books , 2019.

A New Kind of Poetry

Amos Lassen

In “As One Fire Consumes Another”, John Sibley Williams creates a new kind of poetry that brings metaphysics and social critique together. It is extremely tense and filled with “transcendent vision and trenchant social”. Williams shows how we, as individuals, as fathers and as citizens see the violence that makes up a good part of the history of this country. We even venture a step further by  looking what is behind the violence that has become such a part of the way we live.

From the moment that I opened the book I felt transcendence and as if I walked into a cemetery and was surrounded by bodies of those who had given their lives for the sake of country. But this was no peaceful cemetery and the dead do not rest quietly. And so I began to read the poems that ranged from elegy to prayer with so many different  forms in between. The elegance of the language draws you in and then you are slapped with the reality of what you are reading.

Americans love to label, to put things together under one overall name and this is something I have not seen in other parts of this world where I have lived. The poems here fit into such categories but we understand here that the reason for the label is  way of escape. Having extensively studied philosophy, I understand that the human condition is the result of resistance and despair and that these are essentially important to define who we are. I love that poet Williams sees our experience as a series of mistakes and that we can never get it quite right.

I got the sense that desire is what we feel throughout the volume and desire is not always fulfilled yet always there. This is not  the desire of  to covet but rather the desire that develops with us as we pass through the various stages of life.

When I review poetry, I am often told that I am obtuse for not exploring the text as much as I do in prose. This is deliberate. Of all forms of literature, poetry is the most personal and t say too much deprives the reader of his chance to identify with the poet. I see my job as one of introduction to the texts and it is your job to take them for yourself. Grab this one as soon as you can.

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