“Generously quoting many of Williams’ best lines, tenderly confessing when he doesn’t understand Williams (e.g., Williams’ elusive ‘variable foot’), and referring to his own life and work to clarify what he thinks about Williams, Berry produces a work of aesthetics more than evaluation, of love more than critique.” —Booklist“Berry’s superb study reminds us that Williams remains our contemporary not only for the lively cadences and fresh imagery that animate his poems, but for the ethical imperative of his example: to know ourselves as creatures of a particular place and, through that grounded knowledge, to develop the arts that will enable us to live in it over the long haul.” —The Sewanee Review
Acclaimed essayist and poet Wendell Berry was born and has always lived in a “provincial” part of the country without an established literary culture. In an effort to adapt his poetry to his place of Henry County, Kentucky, Berry discovered an enduringly useful example in the work of William Carlos Williams. In Williams’ commitment to his place of Rutherford, New Jersey, Berry found an inspiration that inevitably influenced the direction of his own writing.
Both men would go on to establish themselves as respected American poets, and here Berry sets forth his understanding of that evolution for Williams, who in the course of his local membership and service, became a poet indispensable to us all.