The History of Literature #176 – William Carlos Williams (“The Use of Force”)

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Today, the American modernist poet William Carlos Williams (1883-1963) is famous among poetry fans for his vivid, economical poems like “The Red Wheelbarrow” and “This Is Just to Say.” But for most of his lifetime, he struggled to achieve success comparable to those of his contemporaries Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot. Toiling away as a physician in working-class neighborhoods in New Jersey, Williams tried to write poems and short stories whenever he could, often typing for a few minutes in between patient visits. In this episode of The History of Literature, Jacke and Mike take a look at Williams’s incredible short story “The Use of Force,” in which a physician wrestles with a young patient determined to preserve her secret at all costs.

NOTE: This is another self-contained episode of The History of Literature! We read the story for you – no need to read it yourself first (unless you want to!).

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. (We appreciate it!) Find out more at historyofliterature.com, jackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

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The History of Literature Podcast Episode 36 – Poetry and Empire (Virgil, Ovid, Horace, Petronius, Catullus)

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What happens when a republic morphs into empire? What did it mean for the writers of Ancient Rome – and what would it mean for us today? Jacke Wilson takes a look at the current state of affairs in America and the Roman examples of Virgil, Ovid, Horace, Petronius, and Catullus.

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You can find more literary discussion at jackewilson.com and more episodes of the series at historyofliterature.com.

Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or by leaving a voicemail at 1-361-4WILSON (1-361-494-5766).

Music Credits:

Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).

“Drums of the Deep” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Sappho’s Ghost in Western Washington

Courtesy of WikiCommons
The Poet, as depicted on a wall in Pompeii

Hello! We’re hard at work getting ready for the Sappho episode of the History of Literature podcast, which we’ll release on Monday. Brilliant reader MAM posted this comment:

Did you know that Sappho influenced the name of what is now a ghost town in Western Washington in the late 1800’s?

Whaaaaaat!?

There was a community of people reading Sappho in Western Washington in the 1800s? Not just reading her, but naming their town after her?

I would have guessed Shakespeare or Plato. Maybe even Ovid. Dante, okay, right. The Bible, of course. Homer. Or the nineteenth-century greats: Dickens, Eliot, Austen, Trollope, Thackeray…

But Sappho? Who’d have guessed? This required more investigation!

As it turns out, the guy behind all this is exactly as you’d expect: a little crazy, a little passionate, somewhat charming, somewhat roguish.

The town [of Sappho] was founded by Martin Van Buren Lamoreux, who left St. John, Kansas in 1889 with 8 of his 10 children, his second wife and her 3 children from a prior marriage. Arriving in Seattle, some of the party settled on Lake Union, but Lamoreux, thinking that land worthless, set out for the Olympic Peninsula.

The land around Lake Union was worthless? Okay…he got that one wrong. In a pretty huge way.

But admiring Sappho? He got that one right!

Stop back on Monday to find out why!

Writers Laughing: Seamus Heaney

Still working up the next Object. In the meantime, let’s enjoy a bit of mirth with the great Seamus Heaney, caught here in the act of extreme laughing:

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That’s the kind of raw exuberance that makes his translation of Beowulf so good! Here’s a more natural one:

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And here’s one with a special guest star… Continue reading