This week on From the Vault we listen to the recorded voice of one of the most transformative and revered American poets in history, William Carlos Williams – cited as a major influence by the likes of fellow poets Allen Ginsberg, Marianne Moore, Kenneth Rexroth, John Cage, Anne Sexton, Jack Spicer, Robert Duncan, Rita Dove, Maya Angelou and so many others.
We have reason to believe that this recording, from May of 1955, is as rare as it gets; in fact, it may be the only surviving audio of Williams reading these particular poems. In between reading his poetry, Williams traces the pantheon of poetry, from Shakespeare’s ultimate exercise in iambic pentameter to the emergence of the American voice by writers like Walt Whitman, Ezra Pound, and Imagist movement artists such as Hilda Doolittle, Wallace Stevens, and later William Carlos Williams himself. Six months after Williams made this recording, close friend and staunch supporter Allen Ginsburg released poetry’s iconic Howl, a game-changer for the American creative spirit and ultimately the American artistic soul.
From the Vault is presented through the Pacifica Radio Archives Preservation and Access Project, funded in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, past grants from the Grammy Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the American Archive funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, along with the generous support of Pacifica Radio listeners.
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