William Carlos Williams & ‘The Red Wheelbarrow’
Lisa Rogers & Chuck Groenink
(Schwartz & Wade)– hardback
’16 Words’ that’s all it takes for Dr Williams to sum up the view from his patient’s window. However, it’s an evaluation of a life also. Dr Williams is William Carlos Williams of ‘This is Just to Say‘ fame, amongst other poetry. This fascinating picture book explains how this town doctor creates poetry on his prescription pages between rounds or appointments. Dr Williams ‘writes about trees, a fire engine, cats, and plums.’
We visit the setting of the inspiration of ‘The Red Wheelbarrow‘ about which Dr Williams writes. The barrow belongs to Thaddeus Marshall. Each day he ‘plucks ripe vegetables‘ and ‘carries them to his wheelbarrow.’ Thereafter, he ‘pushes his wheelbarrow through the streets of Rutherford‘, depending on the ‘wheelbarrow to carry the vegetables he sells to his neighbours.‘
As Dr Williams attends to Mr Marshall on a rainy afternoon, he contemplates the role of the wheelbarrow before creating one of his most famous poems, in sixteen words. Like Philip Gross’s Dark Sky Park, the environment inspires Dr Williams. ‘16 Words‘ brings this to life clearly, fluently and empathetically.
PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award