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(Excerpts below…click on links for full reviews):
Disinheritance investigates how poetry can both be made out of language and escape it. Like a snake eating itself, Williams’ lines often turn back on themselves, admitting that their bodies are made out of English while also refusing to be.
…this best exemplifies the brilliance of Disinheritance. Despite the grief in his poems, Williams always leaves us with something more to chew on. There is a universality and a balance in his poems. There is mourning and perseverance; assurance and uncertainty; a definite struggle and a possible resolution. But as Williams said it best: “It is good, this struggle.”
Disinheritance is an epic cannonade of grief that echoes with the howls of the bereaved and the callous innocent whispers of the dead. Reading it will wring your heart right out of your chest. Grief can be overwhelming and terrifying, and Williams isn’t letting anyone out the exits without a heartscorch. Disinheritance is a pained pleasure, compelling as it is discomforting. This is wicked good writing.
The light-imbued poems in John Sibley Williams new collection Disinheritance are heavy. Rooted in the elemental, its ascents to the ethereal posited the possibilities of poetry to rise above reality. Like Earth’s sublime landscapes and tested processes, these poems interact – lean, scrape, sink, rinse, fuse – yet each one is individual, independent. Words bump, drip, dart, dance, stumble, settle, stop, shift, cut, carve… In Disinheritance words whammed. I got surprised. I got sad, I got optimistic, existential, on the prowl for potential, inspired to write.
The violence of human life (within the family, in childhood, of growing up) is explored in Williams’ work without a sense of proselytizing or of the confessional. His work captures the universal sense of being born within this human body with all its limitations.
Disinheritance contains passages of intense beauty. It is a self-portrait of a poet in grief, emotions rubbed raw by personal tragedy. It seeks to find the words for the times when words most fail us. Disinheritance can stand with the likes of “Death, be not proud” by John Donne and “Kaddish” by Allen Ginsberg.
At once ambitious and enigmatic, these poems are charged with a mysterious energy bordering sometimes on the untranslatable. The kinetic strength of the energy itself coupled with the dark mysteries of blood and bone that permeate these charged “stories” in verse, merge the work as a whole into a memorable exploration of mutability and loss.
You can see this is a powerful poet and he proves, over and again, his poetry is an intense colloquy with death. There’s no morbidity, however there is a shattering recognition of ruin – and the faint beauty of its resurrection.
Perhaps most of all, reading these poems makes you realize that grief is an expression of memory and connectedness, that it is a good thing, a measure of the people you have loved and have loved you. Disinheritance is a beautiful, moving collection.
Each poem is a question, an answer, a yearning, a sorrow, a spiraling wonder, an aching need.
This is an excellent collection of poetry for a number of reasons, but first and foremost Disinheritance succeeds because it shows such a wide range in John Sibley William’s talent, all the while maintaining a consistent theme throughout the book.
Realistic, heart wrenching, and phenomenal. Williams collects the essence of life and captures it with every piece. The reality of life and its rawness come alive within these pages. Disinheritance is a stunning, beautifully written collection.
John Sibley Williams’s second full-length book of poems, Disinheritance, ponders death and the life that the dead can no longer inherit. Disinheritance is strong work, pertinent in its discussion of ways to encounter death, as we must do.
The world of Disinheritance tasks us to ruminate on interconnection, our relationships through time, to the end of embedding us more firmly in authentic experience.
Williams basically invites us on a rugged journey into the heart of his pervasive melancholy. As George Bernard Shaw wrote, only the completely personal is truly universal, so as we venture into Williams’ struggles, we recognize ourselves.
It took me years of reading poetry to arrive at appreciating free-verse. This is among the best of free-verse, the kind of poetry that those who aspire to express poetry should study and take note.
There is a sense of longing and deep sadness in these poems, and through this darkness, the narrators attempt to name what is missing even though it cannot be named. Disinheritance is deeply affecting.
Williams brings mystery and mourning together, which also tells me that he incorporates the mysteries of life… “there comes a time abstractions must choose what shape to take”. Williams shows that we can find solace in poetry, especially in this collection.
The writing is beautiful and at times very haunting. There are several “personas” that are threaded throughout a variety of the poems, which adds a great element of continuity to the collection. All in all, this writing impressed me deeply and this little poetry book is very well worth the read.