…he is led to some sharp remarks about two of last century’s favorite poetry anthologists, Louis Untermeyer and Oscar Williams. Williams’s Little Treasure of Modern Poetry “prints nine bad poems by Oscar Williams and four by his wife Gene Derwood,” Halls reports, and continues parenthetically, “(William Carlos Williams gets two.)” This reader remembers that book, with its “printed oval photographs of the poets,” but failed to remember one salient fact acerbically noted by Hall, who asks, “Would you care to guess whose portrait ends the book? Or whose portrait resides next to Homer on the cover of the paperback?” Randall Jarrell once said that Oscar Williams’s poems were “written on a typewriter by a typewriter.” Hall deflates Williams’s status further still, by recounting once introducing him to T. S. Eliot at a dinner party. “Eliot said, ‘I recognize you from your photographs,’” writes Hall, adding that “without irony Williams burbled that he recognized Eliot too.”Williams may not have been such a great poet, but The Pocket Book of Modern Verse introduced a lot of people to a lot of worthwhile poets. He deserves some credit for that.
Thursday, June 28, 2018
… The Mischievous Warmth of Donald Hall | Commonweal Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)