I wanted to Write a Poems : The Autobiography of the Works of a Poet by William Carlos Williams ; Reported and Edited by Edith Heal
Boston : Beacon Press, 1958. First Edition. Hardcover. 99 pages ; 25 cm. $3.95 dust jacket with lots of rips and tears around the dust jacket edges. Pages are age toned and unmarked. Binding is firm.
I WANTED TO WRITE A POEM
By William Carlos Williams
The Autobiography of the Works of a Poet
Reported and edited by EDITH HEAL
John Ciardi says: "There are no adjectives for this book. It is a genus of its own. I hope it will touch off many more books like itself. It is one of those books that must be read. Certainly, no one will ever be able to do a study of Williams without this book beside him. I wish there were such a book available from every good poet writing today. Everything it saves is exactly the sort of thing that gets lost when the poet is no longer around to speak for himself, and it is exactly the sort of informal talk that makes most visible the poet's tie to his crazy trade."
Marianne Moore says: "I Wanted to Write a Poem is an engrossing book; in its verity and at the same time in having the attraction of fiction — certain fiction."
This is one of the most revealing and intriguing books in the field of belles lettres ever published. There has never been anything like it since Johann Gutenberg began using movable type in Mainz, so far as we know.
It is a " talked " book — not a dictated manuscript, but one which came into being through relaxed conversations with William Carlos Williams. The only complete set of Williams' works is at his home in Rutherford, New Jersey. Here Miss Heal visited him several times a week for four months. Mrs. Williams would take down a book or a pamphlet (in chronological order) from the shelves, and then the poet would give a detailed and highly animated discussion of the way the book (or a single poem) came into being, the circumstances surrounding it, what he intended it to do, how he feels about it today, what influences were at work in him at the time of composition, and the hundred and one other matters which occur spontaneously during a conversation, and which would never be mentioned in a formal treatise. Even- book and pamphlet was covered.
Here, therefore, is a living insight into the creative process itself, as it developed in one of the most illustrious writers of our time — one of the few contemporary writers who has worked successfully in every literary form. The vigor of the spoken word is here retained in its full power, and the reader has the extraordinary sensation of sitting in on the discussions in an intimate way, almost of participating in them. At the same time, Mrs. Williams suggested and recalled details which might otherwise have escaped mention. Thus the three-part interviews grew, rich in recollections and dreams, colorful, personal, and pulsing with vitality.
I WANTED TO WRITE
A POEM By William Carlos Williams
Reported and edited by EDITH HEAL
Howard Mumford Jones says:
" We have here the unique feature of the bibliography of a living poet illustrated and illuminated by the poet's own statements—a monologue (with interruptions) that is at once bibliographic and autobiographical. The result is a long, flowing, scrupulously reported talk, in which a leading and influential American poet traces the history of the development of his art, tells what he intended by a particular book or poem (or piece of prose), and tells also what the work seems to mean to him at the moment.... A serious contribution to the understanding of contemporary movements in poetry."
Dr. William Carlos Williams is the author of In the American Grain, Journey to Love, Selected Essay, The Desert Music, The Build-up, Autobiography, various Collected Poems, and many other volumes including short stories, novels, chapbooks, drama, and letters.
Edith Heal is a novelist, journalist, and author of children's books, tier works include The Shadow Boxers, Teen Age Manual, First Book of America, and (spring 1958) Young Executive's Wife.
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