William Carlos Williams

Director: Richard P. Rogers
Screenwriters: Jill Janows

Institute History

  • 1987 Sundance Film Festival


A marvelously imaginative film that is not so much a traditional portrait of the poet as an evocation of the man’s life and work. Filmmaker Richard Rogers gets to the heart of William Carlos William’s poetry: its connection to his life as a pediatrician, its profound sensuality, and its American “voice” (concrete, palpable, centered on everyday life). Poet Allen Ginsberg, scholars Hugh Kenner and Marjorie Perloff and author Robert Coles interject brief, pointed commentaries on Williams’ work.

What makes this film so special is its insistence upon using the poet’s own words as the heart of the matter. Williams shunned the abstract and the non-essential. Rogers responds by making concrete his poetry through innovative animation (sequences by Maureen Selwood and George Griffin) and dramatic recreations of the pediatrician/poet’s life. The film finds its center in William’s preoccupation with birth and despair, allowing the poet’s most self-reflexive words to tell the story of his life and art.

— Karen Cooper

Screening Details


As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]