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Thursday 9 July

 

 

 

 

 

On Thursday I looked forward to two rounds of events: first, a whole session organized around a single topic: Pound’s pedagogy. Michael Kindellan and Joshua Kotin had decided to shape a longer presentation together and had invited Alan Golding as a respondent. The Rittersaal was chock full and the session did not disappoint. The presentation, arguing that The Cantos are NOT pedagogical and do not mean to TEACH us, was designed to be controversial. Somehow, it went against all that was traditionally assumed about EP and his didacticism. Did I agree? Well…. if I did not, then why didn’t I? Did I have my own point of view in the matter? Golding’s response was a pleasure to listen to. No controversy there  – I felt I deeply agreed to everything he said. So where was the rub? Discussion lurched forward as soon as the response was over – so many people wanted to pitch into it. I sat there and mulled over my own position in the matter. I felt I could not participate in the agitation – but then I did write Joshua Kotin an email about the conclusion I managed to get to after my mulling on the topic was over. But that was well after the conference.

rsz eloisa

The second round? Well, that was the music session I was chairing as a representative of the society in the cosy Pound Room. This poor panel had almost died twice, so the fact that I was still chairing it was nothing short of a miracle. Two of my guests had apologized for not making it to Brunnenburg. Walter Baumann and John Gery kindly found a replacement for the first one. The second sent his presentation to me, so I was able to read it on the day. We discussed Pound’s Cavalcanti opera, his music theory, particularly the great bass, and the significance of the flight of the lark and birdsong in The Cantos. Not bad, considering.

After the session I felt I could take a well-deserved break and it was as if the organisers had thought of it too. We did not have a plenary session in the courtyard (where artists were preparing a surprise for us on Mary’s birthday) but at the “pub,” I mean in Nik’s garden!! Well, that was like having your cake and eating it too! Listening to two presentations, by Massimo Bacigalupo and Charles Altieri in a relaxed way, outside, with a glass of wine on the table. And the geese. My, did they pay us a visit and made a racket! They crashed our party and gave us a piece of their mind!

After this prolonged spell of coffee break combined with scholarly attention, we were finally allowed to go back to the courtyard where a group of artists had prepared a performance for Mary’s 90th birthday. They told Mary’s story of Agatha, delighted us with video material and new music and made us navigate among three languages, German, Italian, and English. These festivities were not the only gifts for Mary’s birthday. Richard Sieburth and Sizzo had a volume of poems by Oswald von Wolkenstein ready in time for the event; Luca Gallesi had printed a homage in the Studi cattolici (“Applausi a Mary de Rachewiltz”); I had humbly brought the printout of Make It New 2.1 for her to peruse. I felt that other events, such as the publication of Pound’s articles on Dante translated into Italian in the new volume (Ezra Pound. Dante) as well as the new Ezra Pound Research Center were also implicitly homages to her on her 90th even if they had not strictly coincided with the day.

rsz group italian

 Mary and Siegfried de Rachewiltz with Massimo Bacigalupo, C. Bologna and L. Fabiani