Thursday, January 24, 2008

River of enlightenment

Advice from Ezra Pound for all you folks attending AWP:

"... it ain't the splendours that make grouping. And booze is not the river of enlightenment."


Speaking of EP... you all know about the controversy that has arisen between those who believe in "formalism" and those who oppose it; this controversy took place in The Spectator in 1911-1912 - but for some reason it continues as if it were news that has stayed new. For his part, Pound wrote in Poetry Review at the time that he would rather play tennis than discuss any theories or processes of art (quoted in Hutchins, 131). Pound, and this is apparently forgotten, believed that the contemporary, the new in poetry, could only be attained by mastering all known poetical forms, which he felt he'd attempted to do in his early work: "My pawing over the ancients and semi-ancients has been one struggle to find out what has been done, once for all, better than it can ever de done again, and to find out what remains for us to do, and plenty does remain..." He searched for elements lacking in contemporary art by discovering that "each age has its own abounding gifts," though "only some ages transmute them into matter of duration."

Of course, that "matter of duration" has fallen into disrepute.


Anonymous said...

Man, E.P. seems to have advice for everything. For the sake of argument, I'm directing my poetry students to "A Few Don'ts from an Imagiste" this semester. Hope to be in the City of Winds soon.

Chris Bock

Reginald Shepherd said...

Dear Don,

Thanks for this great post, and for your regular reminders that the teapot tempests in which we love embroiling ourselves have all washed over these tiny shores time and time again. And thanks also for the reminders that any potential future, or even any workable present, emerges from and depends upon the past.

Those who do not remember the past are condemned to be pretty damned ignorant.

Take good care, and keep up the good fight.

peace and poetry,