Books: Part-Time Poet

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS (402 pp.]—Random House ($3.75).

A German baroness once told Poet William Carlos Williams that what he needed to make him great "was to contract syphilis from her and so free my mind for serious art." Williams, a busy physician in suburban Rutherford, N.J., turned the invitation down; he had only a doctor's interest in the disease. In 40 years of practice, he was never able to free his mind entirely for "serious art." But between calls (1,500,000 of them, he estimates), he did somehow manage to produce 34...

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