Reclaiming Disabled Poetry; William Carlos Williams's Late Work

Open Access
Mayberry, Kathryn
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Janet Wynne Lyon, Thesis Supervisor
  • Christopher Gervais Reed, Honors Advisor
  • william carlos williams
  • disability studies
  • poetry
  • modern american poetry
  • disability
In 1951, noted physician and American poet, William Carlos Williams, suffered the first of many strokes that would render him paralyzed. This thesis explores the development of disability aesthetic in Williams’s late work, particularly “The Desert Music,” written in the spring of 1951. This thesis focuses on key figures of atypical embodiment and how they operate in the poem—what agency they are granted, what connection they have to the speaker, and what they contribute to the discussion of a poet’s relationship to embodiment and poetry. Ultimately, these atypical embodiments form a uniquely disability-oriented consideration of poetic consciousness that drastically departs from Williams’s previous work and warrant consideration as disabled poetry.