March 2, 2011

“Life along the Passaic River” The Fourth Biennial Conference of the William Carlos Williams Society
Location: William Paterson University, Wayne, New Jersey
Date: Thursday June 16th – Saturday June 18th 2011.

Please submit proposals of one page to Ian Copestake at by Friday, April 1st, 2011.

Conference theme and details:

“In June 2011 (16th-18th) William Paterson University will host the Fourth Biennial Conference of the William Carlos Williams Society on the theme of “Life along the Passaic River,” after the title of Williams’ 1938 volume of short stories, and focusing on his engagement with people in the region, his role as an obstetrician and pediatrician, and his innovations in both prose and poetry. The purpose of the conference is to provide information and insight into Williams’s writing, but also into the history and world of the people of the Passaic River Valley.”

The roundtable format of the conference means participants’ papers (15-20 pages) will be circulated shortly before the meeting to all registered as attending. Each speaker is allotted one hour and will give a short 10-15 minute introduction of their work leaving the rest of the hour free for questions and discussion from the floor. The presentations will take place on Friday 17th June and Saturday 18th June, with a reception and guest lecture to open proceedings on Thursday evening (16th June).

We are very pleased to announce that this year’s guest speaker will be Professor Christopher MacGowan (The College of William & Mary), editor of The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams, Volume I (with A. Walton Litz) and Volume II, and the revised edition of Paterson.

An announcement regarding local arrangements and the nominal conference registration fee will be forthcoming from William Paterson University. The conference will include the option of a tour from the city of Paterson following the river via Bergen County Route 507(S), to Passaic and Wallington, and to Williams’s home in



January 20, 2011

Call for Papers: MLA, Jan 5-8, 2012 (Seattle)
William Carlos Williams’s A Voyage to Pagany and Pagany (1930-1933)

This panel invites papers for a session dedicated to both William Carlos Williams’s A Voyage to Pagany and Williams’s association with the little magazine, Pagany (1930-1933). Abstracts may include, but are not limited to, the following topics: travel writing, transatlantic modernism, cosmopolitanism, expatriates, nativism, romance, realism, landscapes, Paris in the 1920s, American modernism in Italy, collectivities, little magazines, the serialization of White Mule, or Williams in connection to other Pagany contributors, including Dos Passos, Caldwell, H.D. or Zukofsky.

Send 300 word abstracts to by March 10, 2011.

CFP: ALA (American Literature Association conference, Boston, May 26-29, 2011)

Williams, Family and Community. The topic addresses issues such as Williams’s relation to his own family, the closeness of the American modernists,Williams’s love of the letter as a vehicle for community with other writers.

An extended deadline has been allowed by the ALA for receipt of panel details, but those interested in presenting should contact Andrew Krivak by 5th Feb. at

MLA Panels

November 23, 2010

There are three panels featuring the work of William Carlos Williams at this year’s MLA Convention in Los Angeles, California.

Thursday January 6 at 5:15-6:30 p.m., Plaza III, J. W. Marriott
139. Prosody in the Poetry of Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams

Program arranged by the Ezra Pound Society and the William Carlos Williams Society
Presiding: Ian D. Copestake, University of Bamberg

1. “‘When the Equities Are Gathered Together’: Sound, Sense, and Endings in Pound’s `Canto 83,’” Ellen Keck Stauder, Reed Coll.

2. “‘The Jump between Fact and the Imaginative Reality’: A Consideration of Rhythm and Measure, of Poetry and Prose in William Carlos Williams,” Natalie E. Gerber, State Univ. of New York, Fredonia

3. “The Challenges of the American Idiom,” Emily Mitchell Wallace, Bryn Mawr Coll.

Saturday January 8 at 3:30–4:45 p.m., in Plaza III, J. W. Marriott
612. William Carlos Williams and the “Radiant Gist” of Science

Program arranged by the William Carlos Williams Society
Presiding: Erin Templeton, Converse Coll.

1. “Kora in Hell’s Outbreak Narrative: Williams, the 1918 Influenza Pandemic, and Contagious Form,” Jill Richards, Univ. of California, Berkeley

2. “On the Beginnings of Paterson: Infinite Complexity, Self-Similarity, and the Search for Williams’s ‘New World That Is Always “Real”,’” Andrew Shotts, Auburn Univ., Auburn

3. “Near and Far in Paterson,” Natalia Cecire, Univ. of California, Berkeley

Sunday, 09 January from 10:15–11:30 a.m., Olympic 1, J. W. Marriott
720. William Carlos Williams’s An Early Martyr and Other Poems: Seventy-Five Years Later

Program arranged by the William Carlos Williams Society
Presiding: Theodora Rapp Graham, Penn State Univ., Harrisburg

1. “Williams and the Great Depression,” Steven Gould Axelrod, Univ. of California, Riverside

2. “The Deed Is Still Good: The 1920s in An Early Martyr,” George Leslie Hart, California State Univ., Long Beach

3. “‘Pissing Your Life Away’: An Early Martyr and Poems of Otherness,” J. T. Welsch, Univ. of Manchester

From the New Directions Website:

William Carlos Williams’ “lost” translation of “To W.C.W.” — an homage to him by Costa Rican poet Eunice Odio — was just published in The New Yorker (Oct. 4, 2010) — its first-ever publication. Discovered in his papers by Jonathan Cohen, whose anthology of Ernesto Cardenal’s poetry was issued last year by ND, this poem is the closer in Jonathan’s compilation of WCW’s translations of Spanish and Latin American poetry, By Word of Mouth: Poems from the Spanish, 1916-1959, due out next fall from ND. This historic bilingual volume will offer previously published and unpublished masterpieces of translation that Williams made over the course of his poetic career.

William Carlos Williams and the “Radiant Gist” of Science is slated for 3:30-4:45 on Saturday, January 8, 2011 in Plaza III, J. W. Marriott .  Erin Templeton, Vice-President of the WCW Society, will preside.

Natalia Cecire (University of California, Berkeley), “Near and Far in Paterson

Studies in literature and science often link a literary work to specific scientific concepts by way of either a thematic element in the work (for instance, the “radiant gist” in Paterson) or a biographical connection (such as William Carlos Williams’s professional occupation as a physician). In this paper, however, I wish to suggest that the scientific element in Williams’s work is best understood through the work’s own epistemic logic, which manifests not only thematically but also formally. As Clark Lunberry has pointed out, by clinging to Paterson, New Jersey as a specific, physical location knowable through a concrete archive, Williams consciously “abjures the unknowable,” as Williams himself puts it in his essay “The Importance of Place.” This gesture of renunciation, I will suggest, defines Paterson’s basic strategy for producing knowledge. Paterson’s investment in place and the renunciations that regulate its access to the city of Paterson suggest reading the poem against the newly professionalizing discipline of cultural anthropology, whose status as a science was and remains contested. In the first half of the twentieth century, a self-consciously “scientific” Boasian anthropology based on site-specific fieldwork gained ascendancy over the work of comparativists like James Frazer. “Abjur[ing] the unknowable,” I will argue, requires Williams to construct Paterson through a series of artifacts that act as analyzable proxies for the place’s mythic quality.

Andrew Shotts (Auburn University):   On the Beginnings of Paterson: Infinite Complexity, Self-Similarity, and the Search for Williams’ “New World that is Always ‘Real.’”

Williams’ magnum opus, Paterson, spans five, finished, books and some 236 pages, and provides a seemingly inexhaustible richness for the poet and its many readers. Paterson pushes and pulls the reader through a tidal flow of poetry, prose, philosophy, historical documents, and letters, to name only a few of the currents that make up the poem. By bringing a myriad of rhetorical and philosophical oppositions into contact with each other, Paterson constructs a series of cascading narratives.  The poem’s form and construction is commonly thought to be broken, ineffective, essentially something that compromises the integrity of Williams’ project. I will argue that the resistant text of Paterson, like a fractal, repeats and modulates the imagistic bedrock of its own construction; it breaks down, not into constituent parts, themes or individual genres, but into the ever-present, self-propagating fractal images of man, city, and atom.

Borrowing the idea of self-similarity from fractal geometry will allow me to introduce an organizational principle into the discussion of Paterson that offers a productive and synthesizing rubric for understanding Williams’ difficult poem. Self-similarity refers to the construction of fractals that, at every level of magnification, display and replicate the formal properties of the larger “whole.” A fractal infinitely replicates similarity with the larger “self.” Fractals are often called “infinitely complex,” because of this insistent repetition of the represented “whole.”

Jill Richards (University of California, Berkeley):  Kora in Hell’s Outbreak Narrative: Williams, the 1918 Influenza Pandemic, and Contagious Form

The 1918 Influenza Pandemic did not get much contemporary press coverage because most western nations were concerned that a panic would deter troop enlistment in World War I. But historians now agree that the influenza claimed at least 30 million lives worldwide, half a million in America. In the Autobiography, Williams directly recounts his experience as a doctor during the worst years of the pandemic. But Kora in Hell (1920) is perhaps more interesting for offering several conflicting versions of contagious forms. In this early work, the worldwide pandemic is also a story of global circulation and the military mobilization that enabled its outbreak. So then Williams’ meditation on influenza is also a meditation on globalization or the forms of experience endemic to a colonial modernity.

In Kora in Hell atmosphere, influenza, and intoxication become overlapping registers for a mode of sensory and perceptual equivalence. These early fragments show all things dissolving, softening, and melting into air. Except each fragment is also a portrait from rural New Jersey, a version of character verging on the ethnographic. Kora in Hell insists both upon the representation of contagious sensation and a form of personhood that can sit in and outside this sensory logic. The text’s ability to toggle between the solidity of portrait and the intoxication of atmosphere attempts to locate a national poetry that can also account for the worldwide reach of the epidemic. The work becomes a project to make a form for a suddenly visible non-simultaneity of simultaneous systems as an ambivalent movement between objects and contagion, local and global, portrait and atmosphere.

Via @AlFilreis on Twitter:

Check out this blog post at Tin Fish Net.  It explores connections between WCW’s famous poem and Chinese ideograms.  Really interesting material!

Jonathan Cohen, a writer, editor and webmaster at the Department of Surgery, Stony Brook University Medical Center, sent on the following announcement:

“I would like to share with you my presentation of Williams’s translation (hithertofore unpublished) of a great poem by Jorge Carrera Andrade, Ecuador’s preeminent poet of the last century. It just came out in Translation Review. Please click here to see it.

The introductory essay offers the first telling of the history behind this translation and others Williams made of Latin American poetry in the late 1950s. It describes aspects of his work as a poet and translator not described anywhere else.

New Directions will publish my compilation of Williams’ translations next year, in the fall; the book’s title is Poems from the Spanish, 1916-1959. Several of the translations will be published for the first time.”

Helen Deese Remembered

June 14, 2010

Th William Carlos Williams Society mourns the loss of Helen Deese, a long-time lecturer in English at the University of California, Los Angeles.  Helen Passed away on June 4.  Remembrances and condolences may be sent to her husband Rummy’s address is 601 E. Baseline, Claremont, CA 91711.


May 27, 2010

If you are planning to be at this weekend’s American Literature Association conference in San Francisco, be sure to check out the following panels:
Session 4-E Williams and Company (Room Pacific G)
Organized by the William Carlos Williams Society
Chair: Kerry Driscoll, St. Joseph College

1. “A book I shall never entirely put down”: Williams and Kenneth Burke’s A Grammar of Motives,” Miriam Marty Clark, Auburn University
2. “From Literary Prefiguration to Real Encounter: Williams and Valery Larbaud,”Margit Peterfy, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz.
3. “Williams and Achim Eckert: Water’s Deformity of the Beauty of Language in Paterson III,” Mohammed Alghamdi, Creighton University

Session 5-G A Panel in Tribute to Burt Hatlen, 1936-2008 (Pacific H)
Chair: Ian Copestake, Otto Friedrich University, Bamberg

1. “Modernism and the Occult Tradition: Burton Hatlen Re-Reading H.D.,” Demetres Tryphonopoulos, University of New Brunswick.
2. “Of Rhythm, Image and Knowing: The Legacy of Burton Hatlen as a Reader of Pound,” Ellen Stauder, Reed College.
3. “’Going By Language’: Burt Hatlen on William Carlos Williams,” Christopher MacGowan, College of William and Mary.

Beinecke Images Online!

April 19, 2010

Check out this link of WCW images now available on the Beinecke’s webpage!