in W.C. Williams’ Paterson
Anders Kristian Strand, UNIVERSITY OF BERGEN
If poetry and fiction in the 19th century were largely dominated by temporally organized forms, one may say that the 20th century turned to more spatial forms of thinking and expression. Certainly there was no reinstatement of the fixed, stable, hierarchical and coherent place of premodern man, but rather an exploration of a dynamic, changing, polytopic and open-ended space, a spatio-temporal or – to borrow Michail Bakhtin’s concept – chronotopic universe. Indeed, much of the momentum of the American poetry of the 1920s and onwards is indebted to these new aesthetic tendencies. Thus Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams, often considered to be the two main figures in modern American poetry, jolted their readers into poetic worlds where “kinetics”, “tension” and “process” are the key vectors of poetic organization.
In his influential essay “Projective Verse” from 1950, the poet Charles Olson, who hailed Pound and Williams as the very fathers of the new “open poem”, demanded that “every element in an open poem (the syllable, the line, as well as the