Poetic Origins: Revisiting William Carlos Williams's "The Poem as a Field of Action” and Mapping the Building Blocks of Poetry


  • Jake Young University of Missouri


biosemiotics, information, interpretation, meaning, poetry


This article begins with a reflection on William Carlos Williams's lecture "The Poem as a Field of Action” in light of recent developments in theoretical physics as a means to uncover fundamental aspects of poetry. Discussing where and how meaning originates, the paper explores quantum mechanics, speculative realism, panpsychism, endosymbiosis, Gia theory, and biosemiotics. Biosemiotics interprets life as a semiotic process and proposes that biological life at all levels is concerned with meaning-making. The essay concludes by arguing that the basic elements of poetry”such as semiosis, metaphor, and interpretation”are basic aspects of all living, autopoietic beings.

Author Biography

Jake Young, University of Missouri

Jake Young focuses on craft and theory of poetry and translation, and the intersections of food, drink, and literature. He is the author of the poetry book American Oak (2018) and the nonfiction collection True Terroir (2019). Recent critical publications includes "The Offal Truth” (2018) published in Gastronomica: The Journal of Critical Food Studies, and "Dissolving Metaphors in Emily Dickinson's Poems About Drink” (2019) published in The Emily Dickinson Journal. Jake also serves as the poetry editor for the Chicago Quarterly Review. He received his MFA from North Carolina State University and his PhD from the University of Missouri.




How to Cite

Young, J. (2021). Poetic Origins: Revisiting William Carlos Williams’s "The Poem as a Field of Action” and Mapping the Building Blocks of Poetry. Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, 17(1), 73–98. Retrieved from https://cosmosandhistory.org/index.php/journal/article/view/890