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Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 21 May 2000 13:33:41 EDT
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perhaps to the surprise of no one, I'd like to associate myself with Carlo
Parcelli's observations.  it's tiresome to read studies of Pound's life,
which usually amounts to excoriating exposes of his many faults, by writers
whose only contribution to the study of Pound is an attempt to diminish his
poetic achievement  -- in my view, the most significant achievement in poetry
in the 20th century, at least in the english speaking world -- by viciously
denigrating him as a human being; I share Parcelli's view that this is
principally because the poetry of Pound is beyond them.

joe brennan....

In a message dated 05/21/2000 12:05:35 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
[log in to unmask] writes:

 I'd like to get right to the point here. While I admire and appreciate
 much of the scholarship on Pound that appears on this list, I find the
 criticism as regards poetry, that is the creation and praxis of poetry,
 to be in an important sense utterly without relevance. Although it is
 indeed fine and useful (utile to borrow David Jones' term) to perform
 these exegetical autopsies on Pound, we should never lose sight of the
 poet and poetry that gives us such rich ground to work with in the first
 place. This IS the legacy of what I refer to as High Modernism which I
 somewhat eclectically extend to include Joyce, Eliot, Zukofsky, Jones,
 Bunting, Olson, Duncan, Dorn, Metcalf and few others as well as Pound,
 myself and Joe Brennan. Our poetry, in contradistinction to the
 solipsistic drivel or pseudoexperimental anagrams that come out of the
 academy and virtually all the publishing houses large and small, has
 substance; so much substance (a poem that can contain history e.g.) that
 many people earn a living mining the moderns and a few more such as
 myself try to continue to explore the potential of the form(s).
 Pound's poetry (his POETRY!!!) has placed demands on the scholars on
 this list that has caused them in casual email conversation (show me an
 equvalent list on some darling of Random House or Simon and Schuster) to
 far surpass the level of discourse about current poetic movements
 anywhere in any venue. That's because there is so much in Pound. So, in
 spite of Pound's becoming a further academic opportunity, why aren't you
 people out pushing for this obviously rich and most intelligent of
 poetic forms to be carried on by succeeding generations? Are you
 frightened of being tarred by his anti-Semitism, his Fascism, his
 Confucianism? Do you secretly hate him but see his work as a sound
 'business' opportunity? Huh?
 I got interested in Pound when I was an undergraduate studying with
 Pound's co-translator of greek drama, Rudd Fleming. Subsequently I did a
 years independent study on Pound culminating in a poem in the style of
 the Cantos called Ontology of Accident. Their is no fascism,
 anti-semitism or reactionary Confucianism in my poem yet its still
 unmistakably in the style of the Cantos. My thesis committee was
 Fleming, Reed Whittemore and Hugh Kenner--Himmler was dead and Edward
 Lansdale declined the invitation. I've read Pound's work and the huge
 body of criticism for years even as I refined my own approach. But other
 than Joe Brennan I've had to do it in a vacuum. Brennan and I are not
 hacks. We are decades long practitioners with deep reading agendas and
 original epistmological foundations much like Pound and all the other
 great high-moderns. Like Pound are approaches may not be "right"
 whatever that means, and because were so far outside established
 practice they might seem eccentric to the conservative inside. But WE
 are the true heirs to the high-modernist tradition, a plethora of poetic
 techniques, insights and sources so rich that it has barely been tapped
 at the imaginative and creative level though so much ink has been
 spilled at the critical level.
 I find it useful to continue to read the exegesis on Pound but after
 many books, articles and email my enthusiasm is somewhat diminshed. Its
 diminished because it should now be obvious to anyone that Pound and his
 compatriots and heirs were (are) onto something; that is a poetic form
 that simply isn't a reflection of middle class self-absorption or a
 self-absorbed reaction to it that professes to be a radical alternative
 like Language poetry. In fact, I hesitate to mention the two above
 alternatives at all, because in a reasoned and interested poetic
 universe they would be so diminished and irrelevant next to the work of
 Pound or Joyce that it would be considerd ridiculous to mention them.
 But I have to, because now this is pretty much all we've got poetically.
 Stupid movements and whiny free verse now rule poetry and as a
 consequence poetry has become largely a joke. Pound and the other
 moderns for all their faults so far transcend this that poets who work
 in their style are excluded by editors to stupid to know what the
 authors doing and fellow poets too intimidated to offer them a place at
 the table. Beyond that you have an audience that is made up of a mildly
 refined soap opera set usually comprised largely of other poets or
 poetry wannabees who insist on a stultifying etiquette that precludes
 any engagement with the real world.
 Many of you people have done the work. Many of you people are on
 faculties and witness first hand the mind numbing idiocy that passes for
 poetry at the academy nowadays. I'm sorry to say that some of you while
 familiar with the larger possibilities of high-modernism, have made
 minor reputations writing post-navel doggerel for the current market.
 Well, I suggest you begin to understand the value of Pound and the
 modernists before the terminally mediocre utterly take over the poetic
 world and the squeaking that is poetry today becomes a well deserved
 silence of tomorrow.
 POUND IS A GREAT POET. And he's put food on the table of a lot of
 academic families. That's no small thing. Think about it. If he was
 really as worthless as your criticisms imply why do I have over 200 book
 length critical studies of the man on my shelf. To me, Pound and the
 other high-modernists are a living legacy, a legacy I carry on with
 every book I read and every word I pen. I hope someday a couple of you
 people will begin to understand a little of what I'm saying here.---
 Carlo Parcelli