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William Carlos Williams

Poet / Physician

Born: 17 September 1883
Died: 4 March 1963
Birthplace: Rutherford, New Jersey
Best known as: Author of the poetic epic Paterson
William Carlos Williams was a local doctor in New Jersey throughout his life while also becoming a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet. Williams was considered a groundbreaker: he wrote poems about the everyday lives of working people, an unusual notion for the time, and often tried unusual meters and styles. In later years these traits endeared him to Beat poets like Allen Ginsberg. Williams also wrote plays, novels, and essays. At the same time, he worked as a general physician in his hometown of Rutherford, New Jersey, for four decades. He published his Autobiography of William Carlos Williams in 1951, the year a series of strokes forced him to retire from medicine. He was given a posthumous Pulitzer Prize in 1963 for his 1962 collection Pictures from Brueghel, and other Poems.
Extra credit: Williams's mother was born in Puerto Rico, which helps account for his slightly Latin-sounding name... Williams earned his medical degree in 1906 from the University of Pennsylvania; while in school there he became friends with future poet Ezra Pound... He married the former Florence Herman in 1912. They had two sons: William (b. 1914) and Eric (b. 1916).

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