Article Index








MLA panel photo

 Panelists shown here, left to right, Sara Dunton, Jason Coats, and Matte Robinson, at the Ezra Pound Society Session,
MLA Convention in Philadelphia, January 6, 2017.




We would like to extend our sincere appreciation to Roxana Preda, who invited us to co-edit this Special Issue of Make-It-New, making it possible for us to share with its readers the four papers presented at the Ezra Pound Society Session held at the MLA Convention this past January. We also want to thank the panelists who kindly consented to contribute their papers to this issue, and who wrote short responses to fellow panelists’ papers. In doing so, they have instigated new discussions prompted by the seldom-considered juxtaposition of three key modernists. Finally, to all those colleagues who attended the session in Philadelphia, to those who raised questions there and who offered feedback afterwards, we are grateful for your enthusiasm and keen observations.

                                                       Sara Dunton and Demetres Tryphonopoulos, Co-editors


In the call for the Ezra Pound Society panel session at the 2017 MLA Convention, Society Secretary and session organizer Demetres Tryphonopoulos invited modernist scholars to determine how H.D. and/or Bryher’s lives and works engaged, and disengaged, with Pound’s over the course of their careers. The panel, entitled Pound’s Presence in H.D.’s and Bryher’s Writing, sought essays that would investigate the interfaces between the writers’ aesthetic theories, literary practices, and political activities. Beyond what has been reduced to Pound’s mere “naming” of H.D. in the well-rehearsed story of her signing her poems “Imagiste”—a single act which both propelled and limited her reception—lie subsequent, often unacknowledged acts of intervention and influence (not only from Pound but also from Bryher) that also affected H.D.’s career. By encouraging contributors to cross-examine the works of H.D., Bryher, and Pound, the Society’s call proposed to broaden our understanding of their allied and disparate approaches to modernism.

The four papers ultimately selected for the panel are offered here, in this special issue, for your consideration. Using intertextual readings of memoirs, correspondence, fiction, poetry, and critical prose, in their essays the panelists scrutinize issues crucial to modernist scholarship: intertwined personal and professional relationships underpinned by the dynamics of patronage and politics; indirect approaches to incorporating aesthetic principles in “ahistorical” texts; integration of concepts derived from studies of spiritualism, mysticism, and the occult; evolving attitudes toward curating and representing archival materials, especially through tactics of allusion. 

The first essay is written by Susan McCabe, who examines the complex interactions of the three writers in “H.D., Bryher, and Pound: The Primal Scene of Modernist Money.” (Editors’ note: Dr. McCabe was unable to attend the convention, and so her paper is presented here for the first time.)  As early “rival” patrons of H.D., the poetic impresario Pound, and Bryher, a British industrialist’s queer daughter, both supported and advanced H.D.’s career, with Bryher taking ascendancy after 1919. McCabe’s emphasis, in her own words, “is to direct the reader to the trio’s interrelated differential psychological relationship to the modern crisis of money.” Her thought-provoking essay leads us into this relationship through interwoven concepts of Freudian theory, fecundity, materialism, and patronage.

In the second paper, “‘True Students of Aesthetics’: H.D. and Pound Define Beauty in ‘concrete terms’,” Sara Dunton considers how reading Walter Pater together in their youth instigated Pound’s and H.D.’s formulations of theories on aesthetics based on their understandings of the “concrete terms” of visual artworks. Addressing their early prose from the 1910s and 1920s, Dunton contrasts Pound’s inclination towards contemporary sculptors with H.D.’s turn to ancient Greek and Renaissance artists. She argues that despite their differing preferences, Pound and H.D. both engage with the ekphrastic process—the verbal representation of visual objects—to facilitate their thinking in their own “new age.” Following Pater’s lead, the two modernists deploy the traditional mode to radicalize notions of the production and reception of visual and literary art.

The third essay, “‘You know Ezra Pound, don’t you?’: Ezra Pound’s Return in H.D.’s Late Work,” is contributed by Matte Robinson, who focuses on H.D.’s prose and correspondence from the 1950s, particularly her memoirs—Compassionate Friendship, Magic Mirror, Thorn Thicket and Hirslanden Notebooks—which have only recently been published. He reflects upon Pound's resurgent presence in H.D.’s psyche, first by tracing the enigmatic echoes of “Ezra” in her late memoirs, and then by deftly tracking her return to occult researches. Robinson cites one of the first meetings with her analyst Erich Heydt, whose intense curiosity about her early romantic relationship with Pound prompted H.D., suspecting that occult forces might be at work, to guardedly revisit her memories of Pound.

The fourth contributor to the panel is Jason Coats, who examines the evolution of H.D.’s and Pound’s attitudes toward curating and representing the archival materials that contextualize the cryptic figures in their poetry. In his paper, “H.D., Pound, and Archival Shibboleths,” Coats observes that many extant studies have analysed each poet’s allusiveness in isolation. Their early-career intimacy and Pound’s patronizing aesthetic appropriation of H.D. might lead many to assume the embedded glyphs in both poets’ work to be markers of autodidactic expansiveness. While the allusive tropes of both H.D. and Pound “rebuff a poetic reconnaissance too easily attained,” Coats suggests, “they may eventually be demonstrated to serve disparate purposes”—which he then ably proceeds to do in his essay.

A short response, written by either a panel participant or the session organizer, follows each of the four papers presented here. These responses offer insights and counterpoints that not only address the theses and diverse subject material of the panelists’ contributions, but also direct us towards what remains to be explored: complex and eclectic networks are continuing to emerge in modernist studies, and promise to intrigue and occupy scholars for some time to come.