William Carlos Williams and New Directions

Image result for william carlos williams the red wheelbarrow
Image courtesy of “Between the Lines” blog

This poem entitled, “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams, is one of my favorite poems and possibly one of the most well-known examples of imagism. William Carlos Williams (1883-1963), was one of the prime players in the imagist movement and aimed to create a experimental form of poetry that was primarily American in flavor – unlike his contemporaries, Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot, who adhered more to European techniques. Ordinary people and the examination of everyday life was normally at the center of his poetry. Williams began to gain recognition in the 1920s, but his work became increasingly well-known through the efforts of Allen Ginsberg and The Beats. Williams’s poetry can be described as accessible to the everyday person and open, and some of his most famous works include – Kora in Hell (1920); Spring and All (1923); Pictures from Brueghel and Other Poems (1962), which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize; the five-volume epic Paterson (1963, 1992); and Imaginations (1970) (poets.org).

William Carlos Williams was a part of the Imagism movement, which began in England in the early 1900s. The movement opposed Romanticism and Victorian poetry, and instead focused on simplistic imagery, clarity, and acute attention to the visual. Ezra Pound is often credited with founding this movement. Imagist poems are normally free-verse in structure and short in length, focusing on concrete imagery and foregoing abstractions. The idea behind Imagism seems to be very similar to the idea behind the concept of minimalism (poets.org).

Up until the 1930s, Williams poetry was published in small journals, but when James Laughlin founded New Directions publishing, the author and up-and-coming publisher teamed up. Williams’s poetry was published through New Directions ever since. Laughlin even described Williams as “the cornerstone” of his publishing business. New Directions published the first collection of William Carlos Williams poetry, which sought to convey the lives of the working class and immigrants (“William Carlos Williams”).

For my term paper, I would like to take a closer look at William Carlos Williams’s poetry, especially his influence in the Imagism movement, and his involvement and relationship with New Directions.

Poets.org, Academy of American Poets, https://poets.org/poet/william-carlos-williams.

Poets.org, Academy of American Poets, https://poets.org/text/brief-guide-imagism.

“William Carlos Williams.” New Directions Publishing, 8 Sept. 2011,             https://www.ndbooks.com/author/william-carlos-williams/.

2 thoughts on “William Carlos Williams and New Directions”

  1. Williams’ use of everyday topics and simplistic writing is great! I have grown to enjoy this style much more recently. There are so many simple ideas and concepts that we forget about as we mature and find myself allured more by these ideas more so than in cases of complex and figurative language being used to describe the same things we read about everyday in different ways.


  2. J, Glad we could meet and talk about your new direction here (hee hee). Have you settled on Others, or did you find another publication to be more of interest? Send me a thesis statement, if you like!


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