ALA 2024 (Chicago): Botanical Williams

(pictured above: growing saxifrage, Williams’s “flower that splits / the rocks.”)

Botanical Williams
American Literature Association conference, Chicago, Illinois, 23–26 May, 2024

In his Autobiography William Carlos Williams describes his childhood in Rutherford, New Jersey, as “my personal wild world,” noting, “flowers and trees were my peculiar interest. To touch a tree, to climb it especially, but just to know flowers was all I wanted” (20). His study of and focus on the botanical deeply informed his career in medicine and his literary work; and his poems are rich with imagery of all kinds of plants, especially flowers. 

We are interested in papers that explore how he used plants of all kinds as inspiration and as a vehicle for his imagination. Possible topics include:
– Williams’s focus on flora of “the local,”
– the prevalence of trees in Williams’s work, 
– readings of Williams and naturalism, 
– science and poetry, or 
– (plant-based) ecology in Williams.

Please submit a 300-word abstract and 100-word bio by January 20th 2024 to Daniel Burke at