April, as some of you may know, is National Poetry Month. It was this time of year when I'd spring upon my students the dreaded poetry unit. William Carlos Williams was always one of my featured poets.
Williams was born in 1883, lived primarily in New Jersey, and died in 1963. He worked as a pediatrician but also received a Pulitzer prize for poetry. His work (writing-wise) was a part of the Imagist movement which was devoted to the creation of poems sticking to four basic principles:
1. Concentration on the image—the thing itself.
2. Use of common language and precise words
3. Creation of new rhythms
4. Freedom of choice subject
The first time I ever heard of Williams was in a high school English class. It was either my sophomore or junior year, but I honestly can't remember which. It doesn't really matter though because the set-up was still the same. My high school English classes typically saw me sitting in the back of the room, my textbook shoved into the corner of my desk and maybe open to the page the teacher had requested while I worked fervently on whatever story I happened to be writing at the time. But, for whatever reason, I happened to look up the day we covered William Carlos Williams and read what is possibly his most famous poem—
so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
My initial teenage reaction to this poem was "Are you freaking kidding me? That guy's famous for this?" My second reaction to this poem was to create in my notebook a special section entitled "Stupid Poetry In The Style of William Carlos Williams" which contained such gems as the following:
In A Nutshell
in a nutshell
are, in fact,
the contents which
compose a nut.
But whatever side the kids landed on, they all ended up spending more time—independent time even—checking out the works of a great American poet and others like him. And others not like him.
Which was, really, the whole point.
Happy Friday, everyone. I hope y'all have a great weekend.