Williamson presents some of the most dexterous wordplay being written today, in either poetry or prose. While adhering to strictly metered and even traditionally rhymed poetic schemes, he manages to display a rare facility with words that appears to be nothing short of linguistic legerdemain. A good deal of the verse here is composed of long, extremely facile streams of associations that are remarkable in their breadth and erudition. He sees the blank page as “a window filled with frost, an unformed thought . . . a flag of surrender . . . the napkin at a table set for one,” and, abhorring any white space, proceeds to fill it with his semantic arabesques. In “The Top Priority,” a diatribe against “base, Orwellian duplicitese,” the author is wildly funny and dead on the mark. At other times, however, he becomes an adolescent joker who cannot stop himself (even when his classmates threaten evisceration). The first few devices are clever and fun, then the groans begin. A compulsive punster, Williamson doesn’t know how to quit while he’s ahead, while he’s still liked: for all the hard work involved, his long and leisurely verbal foreplay never quite achieves a climax. In one extremely ambitious sequence of 26 poems, the rhyming couplets of interspersed lines comprise the verbal equivalent of photographic double exposures—but the display has more flash than substance.
Extended metaphors that provide a feast for the word enthusiast, but may leave others feeling bloated and overfed.