Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: December 2014

Chapter 30 - Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, and the East Coast Projectivists

from Part III - Forms of Modernism, 1900–1950


In accounts of American poetry, William Carlos Williams is a marker of the development of modernism, of the avant-garde and of a democratic art of everyday speech. However, he has become important to the literary chronology. Williams's success in addressing his present with appropriate poetic quickness remains apparent, but it is also clear that the poem is a century old. Williams's sense of his own cultural deficit may be a constant, but even his yelling shows that he was keeping up with the latest manifestos from Europe. This Is Just to Say poem's simple vocabulary, narrative economy and realism, in the sense that Williams actually ate those plums and then scrawled those lines, make it suitable for eighth grade pedagogy. For him, art could not begin without the artist's attentive imbrication with the matters of everyday life. One of his short stories, Comedy Entombed furnishes an example.