So let us return to the idea of mixed heritage which grows much of who we are nowadays. William Carlos Williams, our featured poet for May, was born in the United States of an English father and Puerto Rican, Dutch Jewish, and French Basque mother. He is considered a Latino American Poet.
Williams is one of the outstanding poets who had major influence on modernism in poetry. Born 1883 and died 1963 he was part of the literary and artistic revolution that took hold in America and across Europe in the 1920’s.
Being on the cutting edge of the modernism movement of course he received his fair share of criticism for breaking with the formal traditions of poetry. We are gifted because he did. Many of our best modern poets follow the path he furrowed.
The Red Wheelbarrow, featured below, like so many Williams poems, is experimental. It lacks punctuation, relies on erratic or unusual lineation, and generally dissolves the traditional boundaries between one thing, or idea, and another.
so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
Williams wrote tiny poems on prescription pads during his long clinic hours that filled his days as a rural New Jersey family doctor, and then spent his nights hammering out revisions. His poems were filled with regular people talking. They were set on neighborhood streets, in hospitals, in backyards.
Williams, like Frost, believed that “modernizing” American poetry meant incorporating contemporary, American speech into its fabric. He believed that American Speech held the kind of rhythm that lives in the short poems he wrote. In fact he invented his line breaks based on just those rhythms, beautifully demonstrated in these lines from his poem
Asphodel, That Greeny Flower
It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
of what is found there.
Thanks to Williams and others that followed now we can write like we talk.
Join us won’t you for some more poetry fun in our on-line group; Outside The Lines at email@example.com. We share submission every second Friday of the month.