So conscious are we nowadays of the extraordinary influence upon postmodern American poetry of William Carlos Williams—the second and concluding volume of whose collected poems has now been published—that it can be easy to forget that, during the heyday of the modernist movement, Williams was widely regarded as, at best, a second-tier figure.[1] Even Ezra Pound, who had known Williams since their college days and had helped secure publication for much of the poet-physician’s early work, made it clear (to Williams’s chagrin) that his old friend’s poetic career interested him less than that of Pound’s fellow expatriate T. S. Eliot. Indeed, it was not until the waning years of the modernist era—1937, t0 be exact—that James Laughlin and New Directions entered Williams’s life, finally providing him with a steady...

 
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