Charles Dowling Williams
From the land of Merton, an old Tree Farmer claims his place as a Kentucky master of Haiku: Kentucky native Charles D. Williams has penned an extraordinary new volume of verse, Echo Ridge. Williams, a Kentucky lawyer and nationally-recognized tree farmer, has crafted three volumes in seven years—each more interesting and compelling than the other. In Echo Ridge, his latest work, Williams delivers a splendid selection of verse. Written in the form of haiku—a Japanese poem of seventeen syllables, written in three lines of five syllables, seven syllables, and five syllables and usually involving observance and reverence of nature and season—Echo Ridge is masterful. A slim volume gleaned from journal entries, Echo Ridge invites readers to come alongside for a year-long meditation on time, place, seasons, nature and verse. Presented chronologically, the selections in Echo Ridge capture the seasons, the splendor of farm life, the passage of time, and the magnificence of nature. Williams’ brilliantly-rendered haiku cover topics that range from nature’s splendor to nature’s fury; from starkness to abundance; from the heat of high summer to the frigidity of a gray Kentucky winter; from sheepdogs to morel mushrooms; from the long life of a good dog to the serendipitous birth of a donkey colt, and the maddeningly-appropriate end to a bleak year. Delivered with an intensity that belies their short form, the entries in Echo Ridge capture wonder, spectacle, beauty, power, joy, melancholy, the passage of time, and the spaces where past and present intersect. Beautifully written and exquisitely crafted, Echo Ridge is a powerful, moving, and evocative collection to be savored.