What Do I Read Next?
Stevens’ The Palm at the End of the Mind: Selected Poems and a Play, reissued in 1990, is a book that contains the poems “Idea of Order at Key West” and “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.” It also includes the play Bowl, Cat and Broomstick and a prose statement on the poetry of war.
The poet most often compared to Stevens is the great American poet William Carlos Williams, who was Stevens’ longtime friend. Like Stevens, Williams held an interest in art and poetic form. The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams (1986) is a compilation of most of his published poetry.
Secretaries of the Moon: The Letters of Wallace Stevens and Jose Rodriguez Feo (1986) collects the letters between Stevens and the talented Cuban poet with whom Stevens maintained close correspondence.
Peter Brazeau gathers stories and other anecdotes from Stevens’ friends and coworkers in Parts of a World, Wallace Stevens Remembered: An Oral Biography (1983).
Another poet commonly linked to Stevens is Ezra Pound. His Selected Poems (1959) is a good introduction to his work.
Stevens was very interested in painting and art theory. The Abstract Expressionist painter Robert Motherwell tries to do in art what Stevens tries to do in poetry. Robert Motherwell (1983), edited by H. H. Arnason and Barbaralee Diamonstein, includes both illustrations of and essays about his work.
Another very good book on Stevens is Margaret Dickie’s Lyric Contingencies: Emily Dickinson and Wallace Stevens (1991). In her study of the two poets, she shows how Dickinson and Stevens, both private people, write poetry that desires and intends a connection with their audience.
Albert Gelpi’s comprehensive study of modern American poetry, A Coherent Splendor: The American Poetic Renaissance, 1910–1950, published in 1987, offers readings of Stevens, Crane, Williams, Pound, T. S. Eliot, and other important American poets.