‘In the Winter of Cities’ is a selection of some of Tennessee Williams’ poetry. Since I was unaware of his having written any poetry whatsoever, I was delighted and really excited when I saw this book in my University library. It seems to be a really hard to find book, so I’m glad I had the chance to read it.
First of all, I was initially attracted by the title of this collection. Since I adore winter and wintry things, I mentally prepared myself to love this book. However, most of the poems included here have nothing to do with the season. The only connection with the title I could think of was the ominous and depressing atmosphere that is very often associated with wintertime. But this doesn’t mean the poems are less beautiful or enjoyable at all.
Most of the poems, thus, are quite sad and harrowing and the atmosphere they create in the reader’s mind is definitely bleak and daunting. What I really liked about these poems was that they didn’t resemble one another. There wasn’t a consistent pattern of rhyming, format or length. Others rhymed, but others didn’t. Some were very short, occupying half a page and some were really long and even organized in chapters that extended to several pages. Some were composed according to the conventional norms of poetry, while others resembled more the form of prose and that, I think, helped in keeping the interest of the reader since there was this interesting exchange from one form to the other and you never knew what would come next.
I also like the fact that Williams had dedicated some of these poems to some people I presume he was close to. So, throughout the collection we see poems like “The Jockeys at Hialeah” with the note underneath For J., “Which is my little boy?” for Carson McCullers, “A Wreath for Alexandra Molostova” for Maria Brit-Neva, and “The Eyes” for Oliver. I really enjoy discovering more things about the authors I like (I admit I know close to nothing about Tennessee Williams but I will tend to that as soon as possible), and dedications to specific people in their lives is such a precious indication for the people surrounding the author and food for thought or research about the relationships between them. It made me wonder who J. or Oliver might have been and discover that Williams was in fact acquainted with Carson McCullers, a fact which I was unaware of.
The lyricism and the images created in these poems are so vivid and Williams definitely managed to make the reader feel the exact desperate emotions he describes in some of his poems. Some of my favourites were “Lady Anemone”, “Covenant”, “Life Story” (what an unexpected ending to this one!), “The Soft City” and “Pulse”. Despite most of these poems being utterly depressing, I would love to read them again some day and if I am lucky enough, add a copy of this book to my collection as well.