William Carlos Williams - Biography and Works

William Carlos Williams is an American poet, essayist, novelist, and short story writer. He was born in Rutherford, New Jersey. He studied in Geneva and at Pennsylvania University, and became a doctor. He received an M.D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School in 1906. He worked throughout his life as a paediatrician in his native New Jersey.

William C. Williams (1883-1963)

He lived there the rest of his life, jotting down poems in the mornings and evenings about the people and events he observed. Although he was a very busy pediatrician by profession he managed to become one of the most original and popular poets of his time. He hated the pedantic poetry of T. S. Eliot, and wrote in simple language. He developed his own new idea of what poetry should be. His poetry illustrates the ordinary by vivid, direct observation; it is characterized by avoidance of emotional content and the use of the American vernacular.

The first principle of his ‘new’ poetry was the use of commonplace subjects and themes. The poet must write about things people can respond to, things people have seen and known. Otherwise, literature stands separate from its readers. The second principle for the new poetry was the poet’s duty to write about real events or objects in a language that all people could understand. The third attribute for the new poetry was specificity. Williams objected to traditional poetry that talked in generalities, such as poems that treated love, death, anger, and friendship as abstractions rather than as real things.

Williams paid attention to simple objects, like red wheelbarrows, that other poets ignored, and he found poetic qualities in these everyday objects. The fourth principle of William’s new poetics was the poet’s responsibility to write about his or her locale, or, in the wording he preferred the local and simply personal and genuine. His collection of poetry include Spring and All (1923) and Pictures from Bureghel (1963). His non-fiction works include In the American Grain (1925), essays exploring the nature of American litearture and the influence of Puritanism in American culture. He was awared a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for Picture from Brueghel, and Other Poems (1963).

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Shrestha, Roma. "William Carlos Williams - Biography and Works." BachelorandMaster, 19 Nov. 2013, bachelorandmaster.com/biography/william-carlos-williams.html.