William Carlos Williams: Selected Poems

Overview

"No poetry is more fresh, more immediate, more deftly challenging," writes editor Robert Pinsky. "William Carlos Williams is at the center of one of poetry's greatest historical flowerings." A poet of astonishing range and inventiveness, Williams was at once a daring formal innovator, one of the band of modernists who transformed American poetry, and an intimate, sometimes savagely frank chronicler of the life and landscape of his native New Jersey.

From the beginning he pursued an independent course, creating a ...

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Overview

"No poetry is more fresh, more immediate, more deftly challenging," writes editor Robert Pinsky. "William Carlos Williams is at the center of one of poetry's greatest historical flowerings." A poet of astonishing range and inventiveness, Williams was at once a daring formal innovator, one of the band of modernists who transformed American poetry, and an intimate, sometimes savagely frank chronicler of the life and landscape of his native New Jersey.

From the beginning he pursued an independent course, creating a diverse and unfailingly vital body of work, from the hard-edged experiments of Spring and All to the fluent lyricism of "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower." His influence on generations of poets has been indelible, and as this masterful new selection demonstrates, his poems retain their capacity to astonish and delight.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
His Selected Poems sets the violent brooding of Williams's (A Dream of Mind) early writing against the lucid equanimity of his more mature work. The poetry spans three decades and offers an outline of his development. We get only occasional glimpses of the crude brutality that characterizes the poems from Lies (1969) and I am the Bitter Name (1972) in the mostly affirmative selections from Tar (1983), Flesh and Blood (1987) and his other recent books. Early, physically explicit and jarring poems like ``Saint Sex'' lead to the more cerebral work that has come to represent his style. The poems excerpted from The Lark. The Thrush. The Starling. (1983) reinforce a reader's impression of Williams's versatility while offering a formal alternative to the lengthy, Whitmanesque lines that he appears to prefer. And, though not ground-breaking, the dozen new poems here offer a closing, microcosmic view of his career with topically and stylistically familiar work. In ``Villanelle of the Suicide's Mother,'' however, Williams unexpectedly uses a formal rhyme scheme to achieve the chilling impression of a cyclic children's song. Selected by the poet, this volume is a formidable retrospective. (Oct.)
Elizabeth Gunderson
Williams plucks the plums from three decades and 10 books for this delicious selection. Sometimes when a poet releases a selected works, it's easy to see in it the slow evolution from trembling, green beginner to self-confident, mentally expanded stylist. But Williams has always been the languorous observer who changes only his form, not his voice. (Still, far more substantially represented here than any other form is the powerful long line that has become his trademark and that he first explored in "With Ignorance"[1977].) His subject matter consists of world events, instances of human frailty, and others of shameless romanticism in a wild congeries, so that, for instance, a short poem about a child's incontinence on Easter precedes another on Bishop Tutu's visit to the White House. A complete and thoughtful collection that represents a remarkable career.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781931082716
  • Publisher: Library of America, The
  • Publication date: 10/28/2004
  • Series: American Poets Project
  • Pages: 200
  • Sales rank: 782,994
  • Product dimensions: 4.72 (w) x 7.84 (h) x 0.67 (d)

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