The greatness of a poet is not to be measured by the scale but by the intensity and perfection of his works. Also by his vivacity. Williams is the author of the most vivid poems of modern American poetry.

—Octavio Paz

Available October 1, 1985

Something to Say

Nonfiction by William Carlos Williams

Something to Say: William Carlos Williams on Younger Poets collects all of Williams’ known writings—reviews, essays, introductions, and letters to the editor—on the two generations of poets that followed him, from Kenneth Rexroth and Louis Zukofsky to Robert Lowell and Allen Ginsberg. What might have been a random collection of occasional pieces achieves remarkable coherence from the singleness of Williams’ poetic vision: his belief that the secret spirit of ritual, of poetry, was trapped in restrictive molds, and, if these could be broken, the spirit would be able to live again in a new, contemporary form. Only a revived clarity and accuracy in sight and expression would enable the modern world to reform social order which Williams saw in complete disarray. To resuscitate American Poetry, Williams concentrated his efforts on the purification of poetic speech—his American idiom—and on remaking the poetic line in a new measure—his variable foot. And while his battles with his contemporaries on these issues could be heated, he was always a nurturing father to the young, “a useful presence,” “a model and a liberator.” He told Ginsberg to pare down and economize, Roethke to open up, and encouraged Lowell and Levertov to shake off poetic conventions. But in all his emphasis on the poem as a made object of concrete physicality or as a field of action, he would return again and again to this basic advice to young writers: “The only thing necessary is to have something to say when at last the opportunity comes to say it.”

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Paperback (published October 1, 1985)

ISBN
9780811218276
Trim Size
5x8

Clothbound (published October 1, 1985)

ISBN
9780811209557
Price US
23.95
Trim Size
5x8
Page Count
280

William Carlos Williams

One of the greatest poets of the 20th Century, William Carlos Williams is “The cornerstone of New Directions”

The greatness of a poet is not to be measured by the scale but by the intensity and perfection of his works. Also by his vivacity. Williams is the author of the most vivid poems of modern American poetry.

—Octavio Paz