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| The history of the Living Theatre’s production of William Carlos Williams’s play Many Loves (rev. publ. 1961; originally titled Trial Horse No. 1, pub. 1942) reveals modernism’s surprising influence on later American artists, who were aligned with the New Left. Throughout his career, Williams emulated drama as he developed his poetics. This connection enabled him to formulate his own distinct understanding of poetic impersonality, based on structure, aesthetic autonomy, embodiment, and action. Many Loves, Williams’s first published and produced verse-play, offers an ars poetica for his poetics of dramatic action. Julian Beck and Judith Malina began planning to produce the play in 1948, shortly after incorporating their Living Theatre. The story of their attraction to Williams’s poetics of impersonality and autonomous aesthetic structure and of their eventual staging of Many Loves in 1959 compels a reassessment of the avant-garde troupe’s politicized participatory performance, our broader preconceptions about modernist autonomy and impersonality, activism, and personal politics.