foreword by John Hollander
Volume 2 of the Swenson Poetry Award, 1998
Lisa William's poems are infused with what John Hollander calls "a guarded wonder." A poet of unique vision, she seems always to be "looking at," with special attention to the experience of the senses. Moreover, Williams is equally concerned with epistemology—the how of seeing. And it is perhaps this quality of attention that informs her interest in the formulations of poetry itself, in its constructed dimension. Her control of the line, of rhythmic possibilities, of structures both formal and free, is evident in every poem. Together, William's original voice and her poetic finesse allow her to create those harmonies of wonder evoked by the very instrument, the hammered dulcimer, that gives her collection its name.
Judge for the 1998 May Swenson Poetry Award was John Hollander, poet, critic, professor. Long a major figure in American letters, Hollander was a personal friend to May Swenson, and has influenced the work of many of our best emerging poetic voices.