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Voices & Visions

William Carlos Williams

"No ideas but in things," Williams's aesthetic dictum sought to capture, not analyze. A collage of documentary footage, interviews, animation, and dramatization capture the poet's often visual work and intense life.

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This remarkable New Jersey poet-physician established an American kind of poem distinct from European forms. His work demonstrates an innovative use of common objects and experience as topics for poems as well as formal experiments with the cadences of actual American speech.

Additional Resources

Academy of American Poets

Hear Williams read “To Elsie” and find a concise Williams biography, a connection to Allen Ginsberg sites, and more at the Academy of American Poets’ site on Williams.

The Atlantic Monthly: “Can Poetry Matter?”

“It is…time to restore a vulgar vitality to poetry…,” says Dana Gioia in “Can Poetry Matter?” from The Atlantic Monthly (May 1991). Gioia says that a passage from Williams’s “Asphodel, That Greeny Flower” provides a possible starting point for poets to persuade readers that poetry still matters.