Saturday March 4 – William Carlos Williams anniversary


“To sweet Daphne from her “father” William Carlos Williams” – inscription on a copy, (in his shaky post-stroke hand), of his 1955 volume, Journey to Love – to his daughter-in-law, Daphne Spence Williams – William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)

March 4 1963, the date of William Carlos Williams‘ passing. He “died in his sleep, at home, of a cerebral hemorrhage that was not unexpected”. He was seventy-nine years old. Allen’s great master and teacher, we celebrate him extensively and frequently here on this blog. Today, we’ll draw your attention to his (1964 posthumous) Paris Review interview

From the interviewer, Stanley Koehler‘s, introduction: “Dr. Williams health suffered from a series of strokes [at this time, at the end of his life] that made it difficult to speak and impaired his physical vigor… Because it was so hard for [him] to talk, there was no question of discoursing on topics suggested in advance, and the conversations went on informally, for an hour or two at a time, over several days. The effort it took for the poet to find and pronounce words can hardly be indicated here. Many of the sentences ended with no more than a wave of the hand when Mrs Williams was not present to finish them….Though he did not see this interview in print, he approved it in its final stages [and] Mrs Williams reports him as having been much entertained by her part in the second part of it.”

and here, by contrast, an interview from the previous decade, from 1950, on the Mary McBride show, pre-strokes, when he was very much in control of his faculties.

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