The Poetry of William Carlos Williams of Rutherfordby Wendell Berry
Acclaimed essayist and poet Wendell Berry was born and has always lived in a "provincial" part of the country without an established literary culture. In an effort to adapt his poetry to his place of Henry County, Kentucky, Berry discovered an enduringly useful example in the work of William Carlos Williams. In Williams' commitment to his place of Rutherford, New
Acclaimed essayist and poet Wendell Berry was born and has always lived in a "provincial" part of the country without an established literary culture. In an effort to adapt his poetry to his place of Henry County, Kentucky, Berry discovered an enduringly useful example in the work of William Carlos Williams. In Williams' commitment to his place of Rutherford, New Jersey, Berry found an inspiration that inevitably influenced the direction of his own writing.
Both men would go on to establish themselves as respected American poets, and here Berry sets forth his understanding of that evolution for Williams, who in the course of his local membership and service, became a poet indispensable to us all.
A personal and critical homage to a giant of American poetry.
William Carlos Williams (1883–1963), one of America's most respected 20th-century writers, is the author of numerous books of poetry, fiction, essay, drama and autobiography, including Spring and All (1923),Life Along the Passaic River(1938), andThe Farmers' Daughters (1961). He is recognized as one of the central figures in postwar American poetry and is often associated with Modernism and, somewhat erroneously, Imagism. The prolific Berry (Imagination in Place, 2010, etc.) also works in multiple genres, and he is perhaps as well-known for poetry and fiction as for essays on a wide range of topics, including farming and agriculture, ecological awareness, rural American culture, poetics and imagination and politics. With a sensibility that is decidedly pastoral, agrarian, even populist, it is not surprising that Berry reads Williams via a poetics of place, or what he calls "local adaptation." This is a fairly conventional reading that contrasts Williams—the "true" regional poet of rural America—with the supposedly more urban, cosmopolitan and international avant-garde writers like T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound. Although Berry acknowledges Williams' complexity and antipoetic tendencies, as well as his similarities to Eliot, he always returns him to a fundamentally lyrical poetics interested in the "mass of detail" and an attempt to find beauty and order in nature via poetry. This interpretation is somewhat pedestrian and situates Williams as a poet on a romantic quest for some kind of unmediated contact with nature and the objects of reality. The importance of Williams's phrase "no ideas but in things" has been persistently exaggerated by critics, and Berry uses it as a kind of springboard to argue that Williams' poetry is "culturally useful." Finally, the author's attacks on writers and critics teaching in universities—"literary industrialists"—seem misplaced.
Of interest to poetry neophytes and newcomers to Williams' work, less so to seasoned readers.
- Counterpoint Press
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Meet the Author
Wendell Berry is the author of more than fifty books of poetry, fiction, and essays. He was recently awarded the National Humanities Medal, the Cleanth Brooks Medal for Lifetime Achievement by the Fellowship of Southern Writers, and the Louis Bromfield Society Award. For more than forty years he has lived and farmed with his wife, Tanya, in Kentucky.
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My favorite poem ever is tgis is just to say by william carlos william. I luv him