The Letters Of Denise Levertov And William Carlos Williams
Nonfiction by Denise Levertov
The Letters of Denise Levertov and William Carlos Williams is the most engaging and lively of literary correspondences – at once a portrait of two geniuses the testimony of their remarkable friendship, and a seedbed of ideas about American poetry. With a 1951 fan letter, the young British poet introduced herself to Williams, and by 1959, Williams is congratulating Levertov on her growth: “this book challenge[s] me so that I am glad I am not younger…. You have not always written so excellently…. I am going to read these first half-dozen poems – maybe more – until as an old man I have penetrated to where your secret is hid.” The letters also chronicle their search (individually and together) for a set of formal poetic principles, a search which culminated for Levertov in 1965, when she coined the term “organic form.” The warmth, the directness, the flavorsome individuality of the letters – 34 from Levertov and 42 from Williams – increased with their growing intimacy and mutual regard. Always intriguing, their independent-minded letters, which end with the elder poet’s death in 1962, have great piquancy and charm. Denise Levertov herself initiated this project, and was then, in the year before her death, “fascinated to read the exchange.” This edition also includes the correspondence between Levertov and Williams’s widow Florence. Professor Christopher MacGowan, the noted Williams scholar, contributes a superb introduction and informative annotations throughout.