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Monday, February 21, 2011

Ezra Pound and You

We know that Ezra Pound--to lift a phrase from T.S. Eliot in his essay on Hamlet--"had his problems."

All that is well-known and much discussed. No need to get into the Nazi-Fascist-Crazy thing. We all know about that. We know, as well, how he set to course for American poetry in the 20th century and, one could argue, well into the 21st century.

What fascinates me are the ways in which his generosity--and one can not use another word except that one-- helped poets, writers and artists to publish their works and, in some cases, survive their lives.

I know it is difficult to separate out Pound's pro-Hilter, pro-Mussolini words and actions from the man who is said to have brought James Joyce a "good pair of shoes". It is hard to imagine the kind of imaginative generosity of such a man who--I want to say almost single-handedly-- brought to the forefront of American consciousness writers whose work is now considered the very foundation of our literature.

So here are my questions to you.

Who is this century's Ezra Pound? Where do we find that kind of literary and personal generosity today? What value does this kind of generosity have in our times?

In what ways are you willing to be generous to other writers?

And, if you know of writers and editors who follow in the tradition of extraordinary personal and professional generosity, I call on you to post your story here.

Maybe we should see who's out there.... and say our "thank-yous" in advance.

2 comments:

Mad Coyote joe said...

There is a larger question. With the prepackaged society that we now live in; prepackaged, food, fashion, music, self-image, social value, sexual identity, God, and art, is the direction of our art and our artists becoming more and more a function of profit and an easy to swallow culture?
Personally I see a battle out there. The most obvious being the current Facebook revolution in the Islamic world, but in western society there is another revolution. Its front line, the internet. There is a constant battle between our young, self-serving, arrogant, smug, hedonism and the pursuit of culture. That’s not to say that the Tosh.o crowd’s voice of the deserving class is not relevant. In my opinion it offers answers that are too easy to swallow. A true pursuit of culture takes some work, some self re-definition or at the very least re-examination.
Jack Kerouac reportedly said of the Hippies, “They want it too easy!
Pablo Picasso said, “There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun.”
The problem, not being access, but instead the easy access to a Happy Days / McDonalds version of art and culture / more yellow spots less sun!
As a student I was lucky to find the voice Dr. Deeley and I watched as her students acted like horses that were starved of water, drinking deep her access to a larger world. And I know that there are many other voices out there showing us a gateway to that larger world. My problem is the Charlie Sheen / Tea Party mentality with it’s quiet racism and colonial sense of privilege. The question not being can art survive but instead can art have a voice that is loud enough to reach the general public… It’s either that or maybe I just need some coffee. Keep fighting the good fight Lois, I will too!

Lois Roma-Deeley said...

You said it rightly: Fight the good fight.

That applies to everyone.

For isn't the very definition of "culture"--the essence of the word--bespeak of those things a people value? The "ground" on which we stand?