William Carlos Williams: Selected Poems, edited by Charles Tomlinson

This is the first full book of WCW’s poetry I’ve read and I was pleasantly surprised by his range, considering it’s only his more spare poems that get anthologized. I really have never understood why “The Red Wheelbarrow” has been singled out for so much press. It’s instructional value? As an example of imagism? Now that I’ve read more of his work, I think it’s even more ridiculous that “The Red Wheelbarrow” has become representative of his poetry because it really isn’t.

I also feel vindicated in my earlier purchase of a two volume set of his collected poems and look forward to reading those as time allows. This 200 page volume was discovered at a used bookstore for $1.50 and I just couldn’t pass it up. And I’m glad I didn’t, not only because it has whetted my appetite for the collected works but because it will make a great loaner to others curious about him.

I’m not quite finished with this book. The last 40 pages are excerpts from his long poem “Paterson,” which I’m finding I need to read slowly to catch how he’s layering things. Thus far I’m finding it a very interesting poem. The same person who put together the collected volumes has also brought out an edition of Paterson and it’s now on my amazon wish list.

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About jppoetryreader

Poetry reviewer and poetry consultant for libraries
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