Earlier this year I read (and wrote about) Wendell Berry’s The Poetry of William Carlos Williams of Rutherford, a collection of essays and reflections about a theme in the life of “the poet of Rutherford” that is near to Berry’s own heart. That theme is place, or what Berry refers to as “local adaptation,” and he explicitly says that his purpose in writing the book was to examine “Williams’ lifelong effort to come to terms with, to imagine, and to be of use to his native and chosen place.”
It is that phrase “to be of use to” that I want to consider here. For those of us interested in poetry, we tend to think in terms of poets as “poets” or writers before we think of them as people with lives, and sometimes lives where they excelled at things other than poetry. Williams was known as a doctor (specifically, a pediatrician) before he became known as poet. And he was a doctor in Rutherford, New Jersey, and he was “of use” as a doctor before his poetry helped put Rutherford on the map.
To continue reading, please see my post today at TweetSpeak Poetry.