Fuller gets the Lawrentian seal of approval -rws -jcr -dlh

Joe Pfender

On Thursday and Friday of last week, Lawrence brought part-time poet and past-time Lawrentian William Fuller to campus. As the Milwaukee-Downer room in the library quickly filled up Thursday night and English professors were lifting in extra chairs, I sat down near the back and went over the brief packet of poems I had received the previous day. They were dense, sure, but they were also all from his latest collection, entitled “Sadly.” Maybe the readings from his earlier works would be more accessible to me.
Gasping for air an hour later, I decided that his earlier works were not, in fact, easier to grasp. I had spent that hour scrambling to keep up with the language as well as the references both literary and cultural. I finally reached a breaking point *******– relaxing, funneling all the words into my free-associating mind and enjoying the resulting images. The density of imagery and general language makes it seem as though Fuller means his poetry to be read rather than heard.
About a month ago Lawrence hosted a reading and book signing with poet Robert Creeley. When those involved in inviting poets were choosing whom to ask here, they must have seen that William Fuller is about as different from Creeley as any poet could be. Creeley is all about simplicity and definitive formal elements. For example in “For Love,” organized by quatrain: “If the moon did not… / no, if you did not / I wouldn’t either, but / what would I not / do…”
Fuller stands in sharp contrast, with verbose passages embedded in paragraphs, including one that he read on Thursday, “Speak brightly, lyrically, in the adventure of equivalent cognitive modes. By way of distinguishing these modes, you single out one last condition.”
The articulate, businesslike tone of the last quotation might have to do with the fact that Fuller sees the mundane experiences of the day “transformed into something else” by writing poetry. He is the chief fiduciary officer for Northern Trust and works in an office all day. The language of his expression is going to be more formal than a professor of creative writing. It is a different aesthetic than Creeley’s sparse verse but not an objectively lesser one.
Fuller’s poetry is unique, evocative and subtle, as all who attended the reading can attest. Despite my own reservations about the style, there can be no doubt that Fuller’s unique voice is as legitimate as any professional poet’s.

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