What happens when metaphysics and social critique meet? Poetry that has to find a new form to express the tension it embodies. John Sibley Williams’ newspaper-like columns in As One Fire Consumes Another do just that. Here, transcendent vision and trenchant social insight meet, wrestle, and end up revitalizing one another.
John Sibley Williams is the author of the poetry collections Skin Memory (Backwaters Prize), Disinheritance, and Controlled Hallucinations. He serves as the editor of The Inflectionist Review and has edited two Northwest poetry anthologies, Alive at the Center (Ooligan Press, 2013) and Motionless from the Iron Bridge (barebones books, 2013). Williams is the winner of numerous literary awards, including the Laux/Millar Prize, the Philip Booth Award, the American Literary Review Poetry Contest, the Phyllis Smart-Young Prize, the 46er Prize, the Nancy D. Hargrove Editors’ Prize, the Confrontation Poetry Prize, and the Vallum Award for Poetry. He lives in Portland, Oregon with his partner, twin toddlers, and a voracious Boston Terrier.
John Sibley Williams confronts the violent side of American history and its effect on our notions of self, fatherhood, and citizenship. […] The poems, which veer from elegiac to declarative to prayerlike, drill down into the beliefs and fears that underpin this violence.
–Poets & Writers
John Sibley Williams’ collection As One Fire Consumes Another transcends beyond the boundaries of family and history and country, beyond the body’s tragedies, the “silenced bones of others.” These poems rise as invocation, as testimonial to life’s unfiltered beauty, violence, and faith, to the “light . . . already in us.
–Vandana Khanna, judge of The 2018 Orison Poetry Prize
As One Fire Consumes Another is a rare creation full of song and seethe. […] It is a book of radiance and ruin that manages to be benevolent while breathing fire.
If America’s collective conscience is at war, the wounds and battle scars are in full display in John Sibley Williams’ arresting book. […] Poem after poem, the strange elegance of As One Fire Consumes Another is remarkable and daunting.
Full of passion and heart, this book is always digging through the rubble towards life.
One of the most original books of poetry I have read in decades.
–Sean Thomas Dougherty