Pulitzer-Prize Winning Poet C.K. Williams, CHS Grad, Dies at 78

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Renowned poet C. K. Williams, winner of a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award, died on Sunday at the age of 78 of multiple myeloma, according to reports. Williams was raised in South Orange and was a Columbia High School graduate.

The New York Times cited Williams’ “morally impassioned poems addressing war, poverty and climate change,” that tackled “the imponderable mysteries of the psyche.”

Charles Kenneth Williams was born in Newark and later moved with his family to South Orange, NJ, according to the Times. After graduating from CHS, he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1959 from the University of Pennsylvania.

Columbia High School Principal Elizabeth Aaron sent the following email to families on Thursday:

“In our morning announcements on Tuesday, I shared with the students and staff the passing of poet C.K. Williams, a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award­‐winning poet, who died on Sunday at the age of 78. A graduate of Columbia, he was inducted into our Hall of Fame in 2001. He once referred to poetry as “part of the moral resonance of the world” and I read his poem “Droplets” to our school community. We thought it was a wonderful reminder of all the great things Cougar students have done in the past, and that we know our students can and will continue to do.”

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