On April 26, 2011, the University of Iowa Press will release Thom Tammaro (MFA Program, English) and Sheila Coghill’s (English, MLA Program) new anthology, VISITING DR. WILLIAMS: POEMS INSPIRED BY THE LIFE AND WORK OF WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS. This is the fifth anthology in the series established by Tammaro and Coghill and published by the University of Iowa Press. Tammaro and Coghill’s previous anthologies include: VISITING EMILY (2000), winner of a Minnesota Book Award; VISITING WALT (2003), finalist for a Minnesota Book Award; and VISITING FROST (2005). The aim of the series is to gather poems that “talk back” to and enter into “conversations” with other poems and poets, suggesting that contemporary poetry and literature, among other things, is often a dialog with the past. Of their new collection, former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins writes: “VISITING DR, WILLIAMS is a rich, entertaining gathering of dedications, imitations, corrections revisions, homages, and send-ups—all provoked by the poet with the famous white chickens who brought American poetry back home to roost. You cannot visit William Carlos Williams too often; remember he made house calls and would have gladly visited us.”
A foreword by poet and Williams’ biographer Paul Mariani (WILLIAMS CARLOS WILLIAMS: A NEW WORLD NAKED, 1990, a NEW YOURK TIMES Notable Book of the Year) places this revolutionary physician-poet in understandable context, and the introduction by Tammaro and Coghill provides further understanding of the poet and his influence. But the heart of the book is found in the poems themselves, which demonstrate just how vital Williams remains in our collective memory. Drawing upon a wide range of voices, styles, and forms to pay tribute to Williams’ unique and enduring legacy, VISITING DR. WILLIAMS includes poems by John Ashbery, Robert Creeley, Wendell Berry, John Berryman, Robert Bly, Heid E. Erdrich, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Maxine Kumin, Denise Levertov, Frank O’Hara, Joyce Carol Oates, Ezra Pound, and Wallace Stevens. The one hundred and two poems by one hundred and two homage-paying poets collected in Visiting Dr. Williams demonstrate the range of his influence in ways that permanently echo and amplify the transcendent music of his language.
Loved for his decidely American voice, for his painterly rendering of modern urban settings, and for his ability to re-imagine a living language shaped by the philosophy of “no ideas but in things,” William Carlos Williams (1883-1963) left an indelible mark on modern poetry. As each successive generation of poets discovers the “new” that lives within his work, his durability and expansiveness make him an influential poet for the twenty-first century as well.
Pre-sales of the anthology have been brisk, and the anthology has garnered early positive attention. The anthology is available through local bookstores (including MSUM Bookstore, Zandbroz, and Barnes & Noble), directly from the publisher, and through online booksellers such as amazon.com, powells.com, and barnesandnoble.com.