I recognize the once-notorious radical theater director, now suffering general public neglect

but still teaching and writing and still certain enough of

his fame so that when I introduce myself he regards me with a polite, if somewhat elevated

composure, acknowledging some friends in common, my having heard him lecture once, even the fact that I actually once dashed off a play inspired by some of his more literary speculations, but never does he ask who I might be, what do, where live, et cetera, manifesting instead that maddeningly bland and incurious cosmopolitan or at least New Yorkian self-centeredness, grounded in the most unshakable and provincial syllogism: I am known to you, you not to me, therefore you clearly must remain beneath serious consideration.

From "Flesh and Blood" (Farrar, Straus & Giroux: $12.95; 81 pp.), which has just won the poetry award of the National Book Critics Circle. Born in Newark, Williams has lived in Paris and New York and teaches at George Mason University in Virginia. The long line, the conversational, almost confidential tone, and the eight-line form of the poem above recur in all the 100 poems in this collection.

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