C. K. Williams

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Biography

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 246

Born November 4, 1936, in Newark, New Jersey, the son of Paul B. and Dossie (née Kasdin) Williams, Charles Kenneth Williams was educated at Bucknell University and at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was graduated with a B.A. in 1959. In 1965, he married Sarah Jones; they had a daughter, Jessica Anne, who figures in Williams’s personal poems. At the Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, he founded a program of poetry therapy and was a group therapist for disturbed adolescents.

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A Day for Anne Frank led to the publication of two volumes of poetry in 1969 and 1972 that established Williams as a protest poet of the Richard Nixon era. He was a visiting professor at Franklin and Marshall College in 1977 and at the University of California at Irvine in 1978 before becoming professor of English at George Mason University. In addition, he has taught creative writing at various workshops and colleges, including Boston University, Columbia University, and University of California at Berkeley.

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A Guggenheim Fellowship in 1974 resulted in With Ignorance, the first book in his new style. In 1975, Williams married Catherine Mauger, a jeweler, with whom he had a son. Williams was awarded the Bernard F. Conner Prize for the long poem by The Paris Review in 1983; the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1987; the Morton Dauwen Zabel prize in 1989; the Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Writers’ award in 1993; and the Harriet Monroe Prize from Poetry magazine, also in 1993. In 2000 he won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry for Repair.

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