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Poet Crystal Williams on resilience and personal growth

Owen Carey

As part of our series "Poetically Speaking" we're highlighting Michigan poets. 


Crystal Williams is a Detroit native. She is the author of four collections of poems, most recently Detroit as Barn, finalist for the National Poetry Series and Cleveland State Open Book Prize. She is the Associate Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer at Bates College. She is also a Professor of English.


About her poem Enlightenment Williams says:

"The poem is about resilience, acknowledging the turmoil around us and is about, ultimately, finding a more enlightened way of considering our failings, challenges, and opportunities for growth."


She is merging onto the Edsel Ford Freeway
in a car no longer made, 

in a city that no longer makes it,
talking on her cellular phone, slouched to the left,
fingernails purple & red & caging the wheel,
head cocked & foot heavy.
In pursuit of a race car,
she has bought a roll of black duct tape,
has rolled three racing stripes
down the sedan’s hood
as if she has been whispering with Buddha
& he said, Sister, relinquish your resistance,
your discomfort, forsake your ego.
Which she has done,
which is what it means to want
but not have
in a city stacked with desire,
to know that desire is our most ruinous trait,
the moment in the morning
when you decide to be unsatisfied & unhappy.
Our want is just one of many in a line of wants
& the line of wants is ancillary to the line of needs.
People close to you are hungry
& you have ignored it.
People close to you have lost their jobs.
Today somebody’s mother has died.
Today somebody’s child has been murdered.
Today some body lost sight.                                                                
& your Lumina runs.
Your Lumina runs well; Luminosity,
woman: No one is coming to save you.
There is nothing from which to be saved.



Tell us about your favorite poem and what it means to you.

Post to us on our Facebook  page or, if you're feeling pithy, tell us in 140-characters on Twitter (#poeticallyspeaking). 

Mercedes Mejia is a producer and director of Stateside.
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