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Burt Hatlen <[log in to unmask]>
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Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 28 Mar 2000 09:37:22 -0500
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       As a current undergraduate student very interested in Ezra Pound,
I joined this list serve with high hopes for mature, academic discussion
of Ezra Pound's works, most especially his poetry, as it is a formidable
and challenging (but also invigorating, and, at its best, moving and
affecting) collection.  At times, I have found this kind of discussion
its best.  But more often, I tend to find meaningless squabbles over the
relative merits of completely unrelated books (i.e., the Seamus Heaney
discussion) and bitter academic infighting.  If this is the life of
academia, perhaps I should reconsider my choice of careers...  Is there
any way the list serve could perhaps sped more time on actual,
discussion and less time on these more trivial matters.
        Of course, I realize that most of the contributors to this list
serve probably have quite similar feelings.  To those, my apologies for
taking up both valuable time and e-mail space.
I don't agree with you about the discussion of Heaney's Beowulf, which
has been, I think, a thoughtful exploration of the principles involved
in the translation of poetry.  But I agree that this list is the scene
of a excessive amount of egoistic posturing.  Pound himself was prone
to such behavior.  In his prose especially, he was in the habit of
announcing his opinions in a strident tone of voice, usually without
benefit of supporting argument, as if any sensible person should be
able to SEE the obvious truth of what he was saying.  In discussions of
poetry, where he was challenging an entrenched academic establishment,
this mode of discourse was energizing, sweeping away great tracts of
unexamined assumptions, and thereby opening a space for what has become
the most exciting poetry of the last half of the 20th century. As
applied to social and political issues, on the other hand, this habit
of mind and this mode of discourse issued in appalling results.  But
for better or for worse, many readers (I include myself here) were
initally attracted to Pound by the sheer bravura of that VOICE,
slashing through to what he claimed was the gist of the matter.
Therefore it isn't surprising that Poundians often try to talk LIKE
Pound. The problem begins when some of these readers identify with
"their" poet to the point that they begin to imagine that they ARE
Pound, and that their own snap judgements are as interesting as his.
But if you want a more serious discussion, why don't you start by
telling us why YOU, as an undergraduate student, have become interested
in Pound, and that might prompt others to try to explain why THEY have
been drawn to Pound; and THAT could, I think, be an interesting
Burt Hatlen