Mary Barnard's "North Window": Imagism and the Pacific Northwest
Abstract

Abstract:

This essay presents a new interpretation of the poetry and significance of Mary Barnard (1909-2001) through an exploration of the relationship between region and poetic technique. One of the first to articulate the "little known landscape" of the northwest in American poetry, Barnard's mid-century poetics can be seen as an attempt to refine and forward the Imagist project in order to create what she called a "spare but musical" style focused, like the work of her friend William Carlos Williams, on her experience of the local.

Centering discussion on "North Window," one of over two hundred unpublished poems recently recovered and transferred to the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University as part of the newly-established Mary Barnard archive, this essay traces some of the ways in which two particular "little known landscapes" of Barnard's local shaped her Imagist poetics: the austere sawmill settlements she experienced as a lumber merchant's daughter, and the desolate, wind-lashed beaches of the Washington Long Beach peninsula where she spent long summers in her youth.