Ezra Pound: Poet and Political Prisoner

“In 1945 Ezra Pound faced the death penalty for the crime of treason. For a poet who had declared that there were only ‘a few hundred people… capable of recognising what I am about’, the matter of being understood (and misunderstood) had become a matter of life and death. A grand three-volume biography by A David Moody, the final volume of which is published this month, traces Pound’s path from the courthouse in Washington DC.

“Ezra Loomis Pound was born in Idaho in 1885. As soon as Pound arrived in London from the US (in 1908), the young firebrand wanted to demolish the polite conventions of Victorian verse. His poems were modern in form but not in content. He used ancient languages and mythic allegories to address pressing matters such as governance and justice. His epic 50-year suite The Cantos runs to over 800 pages of verse in a mixture of English, Medieval Provencal, Italian, Latin and Mandarin. Through its very obscurity, Pound’s poetry offered a radical new direction. His journal Blast advocated Vorticism (a British variant of Futurism); behind the scenes, Pound arranged grants for indigent modernist artists such as James Joyce and Wyndham Lewis, while not being any better off than they were. Hemingway, Eliot and Yeats (among others) considered Pound an invaluable critic. They asked him to edit their writing and consented to the drastic changes he suggested.

“His abrasiveness became a trademark. In one announcement, relating to one of the other journals he edited, he declared:

‘Exile will appear three times per annum until I get bored of producing it. It will contain matters of interest to me personally, and is unlikely to appeal to any save those disgusted with the present state of letters in England…’”

Read the full review on SPIKED, 2 October 2015, here: http://www.spiked-online.com/review_of_books/article/pound-poet-and-political-prisoner/17499#.Vg6VVfldU5k

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