2009 | Poetry
In each of the three sections of this book is a prose poem meant to be read aloud in which a character, interacting with other characters, is named for a quality. They are Beauty, Happiness, and Patience. The author is strong on parables: "Parable of Divas," "Parable of the Chicken Wing," "Parable of Ancestors," "Parable of Kings & Queens," and "Sugar, or Parable on Liberals." We find the characters in this book in beauty salons, in a tornado, on a porch, and in various locations where discuss and interact with one. another. The author's style is interestingly unique. Troubled Tongues was the winner of the 2006 Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award.
"I love this book—this wonderful adventurous language, this woman turning her wise and tender glance on what it means to be human in ever more difficult times." – Dorothy Allison
"Crystal Williams's poems are a serious playground, their argot full of mischief and empathy. She writes idioms created from fissures and travesties, the makeshift discourse of survival, a rhetoric evolving under duress. Her poems rage against assumptions that restrict human possibilities and sing the necessities of imaginative space. They admit alienation even as they insist on generosity. Troubled Tongues is a gritty amalgam of passion and compassion…" – Alice Fulton