This article presents a reading of William Carlos Williams’s poetry and poetics through the lens of object-oriented ontology (OOO). While much critical attention has been devoted to Williams’s preoccupation with objects, OOO is here seen to provide a rich philosophical framework for his object thought, because OOO allows space for the notion that objects, by their nature, evade human understanding. This is demonstrated through an extended analysis of Kora in Hell alongside Marcel Duchamp’s Large Glass, in which similarities between the two works are traced—specifically regarding their shared ontological opacity. The article then discusses the implications of OOO’s conception of ontological democracy (or ‘flat ontology’) for Williams’s own egalitarian impulses. An OOO reading of Williams’s work is ultimately seen to be more suited to his short poems than it is to such a work as Paterson, which it is argued is fundamentally epistemologically focused.

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