Wednesday, August 06, 2008


Not the School of Quietude: Williams with cat, Rutherford, NJ, 1916

(Front row, L-R: Alison Hartpence, Afred Kreymborg, WCW, Skip Cannell
Back row, L-R: Jean Crotti, Marcel Duchamp, Walter Arensberg,
Man Ray, R.A. Sanborn, Maxwell Bodenheim)

Billy Joe Harris notes – and is quite right – that Spring & All is printed in its entirety in The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams, Volume I (1909-1939) edited by A. Walton Litz & Christopher MacGowan, and that this version doesn’t have any of the crowded page disadvantages that render Imaginations unnecessarily reader unfriendly. It’s also worth noting that it’s a good looking book, always a bit of a miracle at New Directions.

The Descent of Winter, Williams’ prose & verse linked diary – I doubt that he knew the word haibun – is also included in this volume. Unfortunately, Kora in Hell: Improvisations, the third volume of poetry from Imaginations, is not. Kora appears to be out of print in its City Lights Pocket Poets edition as well. Like the Frontier Press edition of Spring & All, the 1958 City Lights edition is the one that had a dramatic impact on my generation of poets. It’s still hard to find a book of prose poems as radical as this one Williams penned in 1920.

Kessinger Editions of Whitefish, Montana, a publisher of rare book reprints, has however republished Kora. Kessinger has also published three other early Williams volumes: Sour Grapes (the book immediately prior to Spring & All), Al Que Quiere, and The Tempers. In short, all of Williams’ work that is now in the public domain. This doesn’t solve my problem with the lack of a stand-alone Spring & All, and I haven’t seen these editions, so I can’t tell you how well or badly they’ve been done. But I’m very glad to see that they exist.


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