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  • 18 Sep 2014

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Poetry explores 'classic bridge metaphors'

Bridging the gap.

Building bridges.

Bridge over troubled water.

Without bridges, we’d lose more than a way to cross the Willamette River — our language would be without many phrases that illustrate connections between physical, emotional and metaphorical separations.

by: BARE BONE BOOKS - The book cover of John Sibley Williams' latest collection of poetry.A new poetry collection, “Motionless from the Iron Bridge: A Northwest Anthology of Bridge Poems,” speaks to the “undying wonder of bridges” through local verses that seem to avoid directly referencing specific Willamette crossings. But because the Arch Bridge in Oregon City recently was renovated and the Sellwood Bridge is undergoing complete reconstruction, collection editor John Sibley Williams, a Milwaukie resident, sees his bridge-poetry anthology as a timely celebration of locals’ shared passion for river, steel and the metaphors they represent.

Williams combines intimate portraits with conceptual questions to feature both narrative and experimental poetry from 12 Portland-area authors.

While some of the poems are from emerging writers, the collection includes pieces by Oregon Poet Laureate Paulann Petersen, another Clackamas County resident, and multi-award winning poet and Attic Institute founder David Biespiel.

Williams said his bridge collection “strives to capture the timelessness of its subject through an incredible diversity of poetic voices, many of whom are leading members of the Northwest’s thriving literary community.”

Publishing six poetry chapbooks, Williams won the HEART Poetry Award, and was a finalist for the Pushcart, Rumi and The Pinch poetry prizes. As his “Controlled Hallucinations” poetry collection comes out this year through FutureCycle Press, he serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review, marketing director for Inkwater Press and co-directs the Walt Whitman 150 Project.

His poem in the collection, eponymously titled “Motionless from the Iron Bridge,” begins: “I fashion myself a question mark/completing each great statement/like the unseen iron studs quivering/within a motionless bridge.” By the end of the poem, Williams’ eyes are motionlessly watching “the iron voice of water” after a rainstorm.

“ ‘Motionless from the Iron Bridge’ clears a unique path from which readers can approach the many faces of the classic bridge metaphor,” Williams said, referring to the collection as a whole.