William Carlos Williams, a quintessential American poet of immigrant mixed nationality parents; born, resided, practiced medicine, and died in a small town in New Jersey.
How shall we propose a toast to him and with which libation? What can we sip while reading his poetry? Which beverage would help us simplify the contradictory and complex workings of his mind and art? He probably did not imbibe, but empathized and learned from those who did. With enormous unquenchable energy he delivered babies, practiced pediatrics, listened patiently and sympathetically to those he treated, and wrote prodigiously.
In contrast to T.S.Eliot, love and imagination were the essence of life for him. He broke with Pound and Eliot insisting they abandoned America in favor of Europe’s old world culture and its morose view of the future. All Williams’ works were derived from the observations of every day circumstances of the lives of common people. “……blossoming, thriving, opening, reviving….”*, were the tenets of his positive philosophy of the future.
Thus, we must find a potion, truly, wholly and simply American. Beer comes to mind, if brewed and bottled in New Jersey. More apropos may be an American original Bourbon or pure backwoods American Moonshine, shockingly and wonderfully raw, but possibly lacking imagination and precision. Both might induce something vivid, Zen-like, providing “images not ideas”. After a “few” we may grasp his early Cubist restructuring of reality.
Join me in this plethora of offerings. WCW is worth the exploration.
*In the American Grain, WCW.
Elliot O. Lipchik