William Carlos Williams
Although Williams contributed to other little magazines like Others and Poetry,
his popularity among readers was minimal due in large part to his unclassifiable
style. He experimented with Imagism, but never fully embraced one school
of thought. Conformity never suited Williams’s poetry. Williams
wanted to move art away from the intellects and expressed frustration
at Eliot’s “The Wasteland” for its references to
Greek mythology. "Kora in Hell" appears in 1920 as Williams
first major work. The novel attacks Eliot's intellectual approach to
poetry and places emphasis on precision of language and description.
Williams's personal life hardly resembles his bold artistic declarations.
Receiving his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, Williams practiced
medicine in Rutherford, N.J. His quiet private life adds a curious
insight to his fiery call for contact with other artists. While Williams
published into the 60’s (considered a big influence on the Beats), “Spring
and All” represents Williams ultimate play on language merging
poetry and prose.
Contact resulted from a meeting between McAlmon and
Williams at one of Lola Ridge's parties. Williams notes in his autobiography
that McAlmon “was the instigator in the Contact idea” (175).
Supposedly, McAlmon fully funded the project despite living on a barge
in the harbor and earning wages as a nude model (Tashjian
24). Despite the magazines initial funding problems, McAlmon’s
fortune altered significantly when he married Bryher, H.D.’s companion.
After Bryher and McAlmon moved to London in 1921, Contact was
funded by McAlmon through the help of his father-in-law Sir John Ellerman,
a wealthy publisher. Within six months, McAlmon moved to Paris and lived
there throughout the expatriate pilgrimage of the 1920’s. He befriend
James Joyce and established Contact Editions, a publishing company interested
in publishing American artists living abroad. Contact Editions released
the first two novels of Hemingway, and works by Ezra Pound and Gertrude
Stein. Throughout McAlmon's lifetime, he remained a little know writer.
Williams describes McAlmon efforts as thus, “If there is in writing
a form without form, it is that of McAlmon. What he does is not realism.
It has about it a strong moral tone. It is a return of the meaning, moral,
to the word….It is the word used with a conscience, and for its
proper significance as a word…” (Williams
et al.). Despite his influence on and importance to Williams
and expatriate writers, McAlmon remains an unrecognized figure of modernism.