Thursday, October 28, 2010

William Carlos Williams and Nigel Roberts...

William Carlos Williams image credit

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

- William Carlos Williams, Spring and All


how many times

have I asked you

to get that barrow

& those chickens


out of the rain.

- Nigel Roberts, Steps for Astaire

I love this mischievous yet respectful response from an Australian poet to an American poet of another, earlier generation. It is for me quirky and clever. The Doctor-poet William Carlos Williams(1883 - 1963), famed friend of Ezra Pound, Marcel Duchamp and T.S Eliot; he was an inspiration to Allen Ginsberg and many others involved in the Beat Generation, as well as for many other successive generations of writers. His imagist poems are beautiful in their brevity and simplicity, but he was also capable of writing involved and protracted verse. William Carlos Williams: Modernist, socialist, pediatrician, general practitioner, mentor and poet. Do you have a favorite WCW poem?

Nigel Roberts (1941-) is a lesser known Australian poet, published in John Tranter's 1979 New Australian Poets anthology, thus including him under the umbrella of the "Generation of '68" or "New Australian Poets". Roberts wrote, among other things, the wonderful collection of poems In Casablanca for the Waters, published in 1977 and Steps for Astaire in 1983. He was described by John Tranter in 1977 as "school-teacher, part-time football player, heavy smoker and poet". He would be about 69 years old now, I wonder what he is up to these days?


  1. Very witty indeed! Perhaps you should try and contact him and find out? I googled him and found him mentioned on Austlit, who wrote that he 'is a respected figure in the contemporary poetry community.' As well as being an editor.


  2. This is brilliant Fiona! hadn't come across this poem before, so thanks for sharing.

  3. Are you still working on this? If you wish I will pass on your details to Nige - I owe him an email.


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