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28th Ezra Pound International Conference
University of Salamanca, Spain, 25-29 June 2019

Ezra Pound and the Spanish World

report by Mark Byron

 

 

 

The 28th Ezra Pound International Conference finally came to Spain for the first time: a nation of critical importance to Pound and to his poetic education, and a literary culture that influenced Pound in fundamental ways as well as having been influenced by him during and after the time of modernism. Professor Viorica Patea was the academic host, and both her organizing committee and conference support team ensured that the theme of ‘Ezra Pound and the Spanish World’ not only took its rightful place at the centre of the conference, but from it radiated a whole range of themes and influences across borders, languages, traditions. The University of Salamanca was the host institution: the oldest university in Spain and third or fourth oldest university in Europe (depending on one’s sources and definitions), founded in 1134, given the Royal Charter by King Alfonso IX in 1218, and recognised as a university in 1255 by Pope Alexander IV. Both the university buildings in which the conference was held, and the city in which it takes a dominant place, proved to be ideal locales for the adventure promised in the conference theme.

            This report aims to provide a sense of the conference, centred on its academic, scholarly, and poetic distinctions. Spanning a range of activities across the university over five days – and a post-conference excursion to Burgos and Madrid on which your reporter did not embark, alas, but which is subject to a report by Anderson Araujo and a photo essay by Chengru He in this issue – the conference would require a phalanx of reporters to attempt any kind of complete coverage. Apart from keynote talks and special events there were usually three parallel sessions of academic papers, often inducing acute decision-making processes and daydreams of multiform geolocation. This is a perennial theme of multiple-session conferences, and it must be said that the program was put together with consummate deliberation.

            The conference setting itself, within the walls of the University of Salamanca, and in various locations around the city, greatly facilitated the theme of ‘Ezra Pound and the Spanish World.’ A good number of conference participants took advantage of the various events on offer the day preceding the conference itself: tours of the university, its Old Library, the Salamanca Town Hall, and the stupendous Plaza Anaya. The opening ceremony took place the next morning on 26 June in the Aula Magna, a grand hall in the Palacio de Anaya, followed by an opening plenary: Viorica Patea gave an essential overview of the conference theme in her talk ‘The Legacy of Spain in Pound’s Oeuvre’ – the looming figures of El Cid and Lope de Vega were constant presences throughout the event – and the distinguished poet Antonio Colinas gave a personal account of how Pound shaped his own thinking on poetry and poetics.

            At the first coffee break in the Hospedería de Anaya, a magnificent cloister in the adjoining building, conference delegates became aware that no coffee break anywhere would be able to compete with this for sheer architectural beauty, let alone the quality of the drinks and cakes on offer… In addition, two exquisite lunches on Wednesday 26 June and Saturday 29 June were held at Restaurante El Monje, and the conference banquet was held at the Hotel NH Puerta de la Catedral, accompanied by the University’s tuna (a string band consisting of guitar, bandurria and lute, with musicians in traditional university dress, keeping strong a tradition dating from the thirteenth century). The conference also included a wonderful piano recital by Heriberto Cruz on the first evening, who regaled us with Gerhart Münch’s compositions in the Aula Salinas in the Edificio Historico nearby; and the traditional poetry reading was held in the Aula Magna on the evening of Thursday 27 June (your correspondent was unable to attend due to other duties, but can convey inspired reports of the Spanish / English / Chinese readings that took place). This event was fully bilingual, and immense credit must go to Natalia Carbajosa who translated the Spanish poems into English under considerable time pressure. The Spanish poets who read were Natalia Carbajosa, Antonio Colinas, Jeannette Lozano, Mª Ángeles Pérez López, Jaime Siles, and Rodolfo Jaruga; the poets who read in English were David Cappella, Silvia Falsaperla, Rhett Forman, John Gery, Jeff Grieneisen, Chengru He, Tony Lopez, Sean Mark, and Ron Smith. Salamanca’s altitude gave some protection from the heatwave buffeting the plains of Castile, so that the pleasant 30-35 degree days and cool nights were conducive to an extremely rich offering of cultural, artistic, and scholarly activity over the time of the conference.

            The opening plenary session set the tone for the panels, plenaries, and roundtables to follow. The first day concluded with a wonderful plenary on the subject of Pound and the Spanish poets, with papers delivered in Spanish by Antonio Colinas and Jaime Siles, and conveyed to the audience in simultaneous translation by Miriam Borham, Paula Barba, Eduardo Montes, and Viorica Patea. This was a new conference experience for me, and as thoroughly impressed as I was at this incredible service, this event demonstrated how efficient the facilities of the Facultad de Traducción at the University of Salamanca can function. The plenary on Thursday 27 June centred upon readings of Canto IV, with papers by Roxana Preda and Maria Luisa Ardizzone, with Caterina Ricciardi unfortunately absent. I was lucky enough to participate in the plenary on Friday 28 June on the topic of ‘Popular Pound,’ with Michael Coyle and Demetres Tryphonopoulos. The final day, Saturday 29 June, was dedicated to three plenary sessions: the first on Pound and T. S. Eliot, with papers by Jack Baker and Robert von Hallberg; the second on the pre-texts and texts of The Pisan Cantos, with linked papers by Ron Bush and Kenneth Hayes; and the final plenary dedicated to ‘Pound in Real Life,’ with papers by Massimo Bacigalupo and Walter Baumann, two scholars for whom the scholarly community has the most to thank for their immense, tireless contributions to Pound Studies and beyond. In addition to these plenary sessions I organised a roundtable session on the themes of ‘After the Pound Era,’ a topic that had arisen in the Ezra Pound Society panel at the New York MLA convention in 2018 – indeed Marjorie Perloff deserves full credit for raising this theme as a potential topic for further investigation, and her absence from the Salamanca EPIC was keenly felt. Four brilliant position papers were given by Anderson Araujo (Spanish and Portuguese poetry and translation), Chengru He (Chinese poetry and translation), Akitoshi Nagahata (Japanese translation), and Andrew Houwen (Japanese poetry).

            In preparing this report I consulted widely to learn about sessions I was unable to attend: three parallel sessions will mean even the most assiduous attendee only has direct knowledge of a minority of panels and papers. Instead of singling out for extended comment the particular panels I did attend, it’s more instructive, I think, to reflect upon the overall character of the conference with passing reference to some of the panels I was able to attend. Following from the opening plenary, the conference theme was the subject of several panels. For those of us not working in Spanish-speaking academic circles, the roles of Spain in Pound’s work and life, and Pound’s influence in Spanish literature, were revelatory. Several panels addressed this theme, opening out and complementing some of the more traditional language zones one finds in most EPIC conferences: French, Chinese, Japanese, Old English, Provençal, Italian, and Greek and Latin perhaps foremost among them. What was of particular benefit – beyond Spain and Spanish literature finally receiving their dues – was the way in which languages and literatures were addressed more generally. I heard wonderful papers on Pound and Portuguese literature (Mario Avelar), Serbian and Montenegran literature (Radojka Vukčević), Romanian literature (Liliana Pop), as well as numerous papers on Spanish-language literary production in relation to Pound, covering Argentina, Chile, and other regions. I was extremely disappointed to learn that, due to logistical problems obtaining a visa, Irakli Tskhvediani was unable to deliver his paper on the ‘Georgian’ Ezra Pound. Current work by Harsha Ram in particular has given Georgia new prominence in modernism studies, and Irakli’s paper would have bene extremely timely in this regard, as well as enriching the conference’s formidable linguistic domain in new ways. Given that global modernism is enjoying a ‘moment’ in modernism studies, the way so many languages and literatures were given focus through Pound suggests just how significant this EPIC meeting might prove to be well beyond the borders of Pound Studies per se. The more familiar terrain covered by various panels – Romance philology, Pound’s use of classical Greek and Latin texts, close readings of parts of The Cantos, poetry in English, Pound and East Asia – made for four days of intensely stimulating learning and discussion. So much more could be said about each session of the conference, and I am fully aware of the impossibility of doing anyone full justice in this cursory glance over such a rich conference program. I am grateful to each presenter I heard for expanding my knowledge of Pound, his intellectual range, and his influence, in a conference that will stay with me for a long time.

            The final session of the conference was dedicated, as is customary, to the business meeting. Among the several items on the agenda were two of particular significance to this attendee. Following reports of continued far right harassment at one of the principal regular Pound seminars held in a major university I issued a statement on behalf of the Ezra Pound Society asserting the right and expectation of members to conduct their research and engage in scholarly discussion free of harassment, political or otherwise. A revised version of this statement is included in the Editorial to this issue of Make It New, taking into account subsequent communication with other major modernist author societies, some of whom are dealing with related issues of member harassment. The second item of particular importance was the vote to decide the venue of the next Ezra Pound International Conference. Among the proposed locations were Perpignan, Hangzhou, and Kyoto. The conference delegates in attendance voted in favour of Kyoto by a clear margin, with Perpignan a well-supported runner-up. Congratulations to Akitoshi Nagahata, Yoshiko Kita, Miho Takahashi, and Hidetoshi Tomiyama for putting together such a compelling proposal.

            I would like to extend my personal thanks and gratitude to the EPIC organizing committee: Miriam Borham, Jorge Diego Sánchez, Ana Ma Manzanas Calvo, Luisa Ma González Rodríguez, Manuel González de la Aleja, and Antonio López Santos. The PhD team – Paula Barba Guerrero and Sara Casco Solís – also worked above and beyond the call of duty to help facilitate an excellent event, and to assist attendees needing directions, information, or technical help. The convenors – Walter Baumann, John Gery, and of course Viorica Patea – put on an event that will live in the memory for quite some time. This was a most adventurous, stimulating, and rewarding conference, giving each attendee so much to take away and ponder, not least the many literary traditions and writers upon whom Pound’s influence is significant. I’m sure I speak for all members of the Ezra Pound Society in thanking all involved in the 28th EPIC for such a wonderful experience. Let us look forward to meeting again in June 2021, for the 29th EPIC in Kyoto, Japan!

[Following this report is a selection of photographs taken by your correspondent in and around the conference. This is obviously a very partial view of proceedings – in keeping with the physical limitations of the report itself – and many attendees will have seen (or taken themselves) plenty of photographs of other sessions, locations, and moment throughout the conference. Should there be a desire to expand this small photo essay, please send me any images for inclusion in an updated report: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..]

 


 

 

 

EPIC Salamanca 2019 – Photo Essay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Plaza Anaya

 

Catedral de Salamanca

 

Plaza Anaya by night

 

Palacio de Anaya, Universidad de Salamanca

 

John Gery in the Hospidería de Anaya

 

Opening Welcome

 

Antonio Colinas, with Paula Barba Guerrero

 

Piano recital: Heriberto Cruz in the Aula Salinas (Edificio Historico)

 

Luisa Ma González Rodríguez, Santiago Rodriguez Guerrero-Strachan, Mario Avelar

 

MIchael Alexander, Diana Collecott, Jennifer Kilgore-Caradec, Tony Lopez

 

 Ron Bush

 

Peter Liebregts, Massimo Bacigalupo, Walter Baumann

 

La tuna entertainment at the conference banquet

 

Viorica Patea, Convenor of the 28th EPIC, University of Salamanca, 25-29 June 2019

 


 

 

 

Poundians on the Trail of El Cid

Anderson Araujo

 

 

 

No EPIC is complete without a post-conference excursion. It has become such a mainstay of the biannual Ezra Pound International Conference that it’s easy to forget how rare an event it is among academic gatherings. Perhaps above all, the excursion is a testament to the collegial atmosphere of this community of Pound scholars, a community that is as international as it is intergenerational. After several days of talks, panels, poetry readings, concerts, dinners, and late-night impromptu gatherings it is a wondrous thing that no one ever seems to grow tired of each other. Indeed, we all seem to want to more of it—hence the excursion! It should be said that none of this would be possible without the extraordinary commitment of the organizers. The 2019 excursion was no different, and any account of the trip worth its salt must acknowledge the hands-on management and leadership of Viorica Patea and John Gery. The EPIC in Salamanca was all the more special, as this was the first time it was held in Spain, a seminal country for Pound and an indelible experience for all of us. Burgos, the historic old capital of the northern kingdom of Castile, proved to be an ideal locale for our first stop. 

Dragging my luggage laden with books across Salamanca’s nearly deserted streets on a bright Sunday morning I was soon soaked in sweat. The clickety-clack of plastic wheels and cooing pigeons echoed on the sandstone buildings of this charming university town. I couldn’t help but feel a bit wistful at this tail end of my two-week stay. My ennui was brief, however, as I spied an excited group of Poundians milling about Plaza Fonseca, our point of departure. We were soon off to the “dream city of Old Castile,” as Pound described it in 1906. The tour bus chugged along to the lively hum of chatter, laughter, and the odd snort from a sleeper jolted awake in the roughly two-hour-plus drive northeastward.

As we entered Burgos, Viorica’s voice piped through the PA system with historical facts about the city and its fabled landmarks. A place I’d long imagined as a bucolic town is anything but. Yet even amidst the hubbub of this bustling, modern city it’s not hard to see why in the early days of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 Franco chose to proclaim himself “jefe del Estado” here, at the Capitanía Palace, now a military museum. After all, the building is just a stone’s throw away from Burgos Cathedral, the resting place of none other than Spain’s legendary warrior, El Cid Campeador. Few, if any, traces of Franco’s legacy remain, but the shadow of the Christian Castilian knight he imagined himself to embody shows no signs of vanishing. The bus looped around Plaza Mío Cid, featuring the equestrian statue of the eponymous hero, and crossed one of the many bridges over the Arlanzón river in the heart of the historic district. At last, we pulled up to Hotel Corona de Castilla, on Calle Madrid, just a few minutes’ walk away from the main attractions. As we spilled out of the bus and made a bee line for the entrance the afternoon heat made the thought of a siesta virtually irresistible. The 36C/97F readout on a nearby street thermometer made a mockery of this, one of Spain’s coldest provincial capitals. Following lunch and a de rigueur shuteye, reenergized Poundians sauntered over to Burgos Cathedral to begin our guided tour of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is no wonder Pound once dubbed Paris’s Notre Dame “crude” by comparison. The stunning Gothic architecture of Our Lady of Burgos dwarfs everything else around it. And yet, as Pound noted, “it is a white cob-web, delicate as no picture seems to show it.” Prior to the tour, as we stood just outside the cathedral’s Puerta Sarmental, John Gery read to us in his inimitable way Pound’s thoughts on the picaresque adventures of the Cid and his impressions of the “web of spun stone” we were about to enter. One of the promised highlights of the excursion, the tour exceeded expectations. A longtime cynic about curated experiences, I was impressed by the selective array of information our guide chose to regale us with, skipping the typically rambling (and, sometimes, fabricated) tidbits of infotainment that so often taints such visits. So magnificent is the building that the austere burial place of the Cid and his wife, Doña Jimena, seemed almost like an afterthought by the time we finally gathered around the red velvet stanchion rope protecting it. Seemingly hovering in midair above it all, the Renaissance lantern vaulting shone in exquisite glory. As we stood looking at the choir, John resumed reading Pound’s account. Unlike the bulky “black mass” of the Seville and Toledo cathedral choirs and that of the mosque-cathedral of Cordoba, Burgos’s “choir is of light, clean-lined iron-work, and obstructs nothing but the footsteps of travelers and children from the inner place of sanctuary.” Near the end of the tour we also came upon the Cid’s safe, the “trunk,” as John read to us from Canto III, that he left “with Raquel and Vidas, / That big box of sand, with the pawn-brokers, to get pay for his menie.” As we exited the cathedral and crossed under the emblematic Arco de Santa María, the main gate leading into the city, a torrential downpour sent everyone scurrying for cover. It also put the kibosh on our planned close-up visit to the Cid’s statue we’d glimpsed from aboard the bus earlier in the day. With the tour effectively over, several of us took no time in patronizing one of the several tourist-trap bars along the picturesque Paseo Marceliano. The day still had a surprise in store for those of us who lingered around the old town center. Finding a restaurant proved to be more difficult than we’d anticipated, as the crowds began to throng for the start of the week-long Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul, a venerable tradition affectionately known here as “Sampedros.” After dinner, our entourage began the trek back to the hotel only to find ourselves caught in a massive celebration. The boozy roar of burgalese youth mixed with the high-pitched yells of children, chattering families, and bemused visitors. The mood was decidedly exuberant. Turning into Plaza Rey San Fernando, we came upon revellers clad in identical striped shirts, all of them singing at the top of their lungs the iconic anti-fascist tune “Bella Ciao.” Given the rise of reactionary politics rearing its ugly head in Europe and elsewhere, this was a joyously hopeful spectacle. With the mazy medieval streets cordoned off at unpredictable points, we had no choice but to follow the only path still accessible to the Santa María bridge, the shortest route back to the hotel. But, as we soon discovered, the bridge itself was blocked. “For the fireworks!” a policeman belted out above the noise. Walking further along the riverbank we found a clearing among the spectators waiting for the night’s much-awaited climax to get under way. Once the first explosion shook the sky above us the ensuing upward cascade never seemed to stop. Burgos must set aside a goodly chunk of its annual budget for this. What a show! With pyrotechnic orbs still dancing in our eyes well after the last streamers had sputtered out, we cut our way through pungent clouds of gunpowder and the dispersing crowd back to the hotel.

A hearty breakfast buffet greeted us in the mezzanine the following morning. The sun was already high in the midsummer sky by the time we left Burgos. We barely had a chance to settle into our seats when the bus pulled up to the sprawling grounds of San Pedro de Cardeña Monastery, just a few miles outside the city. This is where the Cid found refuge and left his wife and two daughters, María and Cristina, before going into exile. A resident Cistercian monk gave us an in-depth guided tour. Aside from the tower and cloister, little is left of the original Romanesque monastery founded by the Benedictines in 899. The oft-plundered building has seen much turmoil over the centuries. During the Spanish Civil War, Franco even used as an impromptu concentration camp. The Capilla del Cid (the Cid’s Chapel) still contains the 12th-century sarcophagus that once housed his and Jimena’s remains. As the legend goes, the Cid’s horse, Bavieca, was buried just outside the abbey church, in a spot marked by a monolith. John read a short paragraph on the beloved white stallion and, following a quick visit to the hole-in-the-wall souvenir shop, off we went to our next destination.

ElCid1

After travelling southeastward for nearly three hours we arrived in Medinaceli, a village in the province of Soria with a history that spans at least two millennia. Its Celtiberian-Moorish legacy is evident in its name (literally “hill” “town” or, more fancifully, “celestial city”). Even from afar one can make out the contours of its striking Roman Arch, the gateway to this strategically important settlement since the 1st century CE. Medinaceli is also located along the Camino del Cid. Immortalized in the epic Poem of El Cid, the hero’s famous route crosses Spain from Burgos to the Mediterranean coast. Truth be told, however, little of that mattered as the hunger pangs hit us hard. Luckily, a scrumptious menu awaited us at the quaint La Cerámica Restaurant, featuring typical Spanish dishes as well as local Sorian delicacies. With bodies and spirits revived, we took a short stroll to the nearby Plaza Obispo Minguela. Here for nearly half a century has stood the stone plaque commemorating Pound. “¿Cantan aún los gallos al amanecer en Medinaceli?” (“Do the roosters still crow at dawn in Medinaceli?”), reads the epigraph. For non-Poundians, the query must seem beyond cryptic. Yet, to those of us standing there, as John’s voice once again brought the Cantos alive in situ, it held an intimate, if somewhat whimsical, meaning. Surely, I thought, we all share the same thrill of knowing the backstory, like a benign cabal or holders of some secret language. Gathering everyone in front of the plaque, I mounted my camera precariously on my backpack, set the timer, and ran to the edge of the group. The idea for this makeshift tripod, which had worked so well at the monastery, would soon prove to be disastrous here. The five-photo sequence I’d programmed shook the camera just enough to send it crashing onto the stone road beneath it, breaking the lens mechanism and rendering the whole apparatus useless. Before its untimely plunge, however, a final shot captured a perfect memento of our visit. A silver lining, if ever there was one. With a storm looming in the offing, there was little time to bemoan the loss. We loaded up the bus and wended our way downhill toward our final destination.

ElCid2

Driving into the Spanish capital along the main “paseos” (“avenues”)—Paseo de la Castellana, Paseo de Recoletos, and Paseo del Prado—opens a smorgasbord of cultural landmarks. En route to the Hotel Ganivet, where the group would stay, we passed the National Library of Spain, Cibeles Palace, the Royal Botanical Gardens, as well as the most important museums, including Reina Sofía, Thyssen-Bornemisza, and the Prado. Just a stone’s throw away from Puerta de Toledo, the hotel is also within easy reach of many of Madrid’s main attractions. The next morning, the Pound walking tour kicked off from the Ganivet at 9:30. By the time I caught up with the group from my digs uptown, they were in front of the house on Calle de Arrieta, 8, near the Royal Library, where Pound stayed for a few weeks in 1906 to study the role of the gracioso in the plays of Lope de Vega. Once John finished reading excerpts from Pound’s letters of this period, we looped around the Royal Theater and the gardens of the Royal Palace. A few minutes later, we turned into the bustling Calle Mayor and almost immediately found ourselves in front of the monument commemorating the victims of the failed assassination attempt against King Alfonso XIII and Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, on their wedding day, no less, on May 31, 1906. We then walked for another ten minutes to Puerta del Sol, the very heart of Madrid, where on that fateful day Pound heard the explosion that killed dozens and injured scores. A quick stop for an espresso in one of the cafés in the nearby Plaza de Santa Ana gave us a chance to catch our breath and take in the sights and sounds of midday Madrid. A five-minute stroll afterwards led us to Calle Cervantes for a guided visit of the restored 17th-century museum-house of Lope de Vega, where he wrote some of his most acclaimed works. There must be some kind of cosmic irony in the fact that Pound’s favourite Spanish playwright and the author of Don Quixote—the Golden Age’s greatest rivals—lived and died so close to each other (Casa de Cervantes is just a few houses away). After lunch, the group met at the Prado Museum for the artistic apex of the excursion. During the visit, the guide focused above all on the Spanish collections: El Greco, Velázquez, and Goya. Poundians were particularly moved by the Goya rooms. Following the official tour and a coffee break, John returned with a handful of people to the Velázquez rooms to soak up the iconic masterpieces, especially The Surrender of Breda and Las Meninas. A more fitting finale to the excursion is hard to imagine, with Canto 80 undoubtedly riffing in everyone’s minds—“Breda, the Virgin, Los Boracchos,” and “Las Hilanderas,” even if Las Meninas no longer hangs by itself in a room, as it once did when Pound saw it. It goes without saying that Spain won’t soon be forgotten. Nor am I alone in thinking, like the Infanta Maria Luisa of Canto 44, that many of us would be “in a hurry to get [back] to Spain,” if given the chance. But for now, so many memories will do. And apropos of memories, it might be worth closing with an epilogue to my earlier mishap with the camera lens. I did find a repair shop in Madrid, which brought the mechanism back to perfection just in time for my trip home and, one dares hope, the next EPIC excursion. 

(I owe a debt of gratitude to John Gery for several details featured in this account.)

 


 

 

Post-Epic Excursion 

Chengru HE

 

June 30, 2019 Burgos 

Ciao Salamanca! A few hours of fields and trees on the orange bus – Ciao Burgos! After siesta, we had a lovely guided visit of the Cathedral, built between the 13th and the 18th Century, as well as of the city, following Pound’s route. We marveled at the river, the bridge, and the stones young Pound used to see. Later we were blessed by a sudden downpour. 

 

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July 1, 2019

Morning visit to San Pedro de Cardeña Monastery.

 

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After lunch, tour of Medinaceli and visit to Pound monument – the first monument to Pound in world, founded in May, 1973. We read Pound by his monument. The grass was listening. 

 

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July 2, 2019

Pound walking tour in Madrid. 

 

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Visit to the Lope de Vega House. 

 

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After lunch, visit to the Prado Museum. Lovely guided tour of the famous collection, featuring Velázquez’s Las Meninas.

 

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Modernist Studies in Asia Conference 2019 at Aoyama University

Ryan Johnson

 

Writing his first editorial for Make It New, Mark Byron decreed that “two key concepts” would structure The Ezra Pound Society during his time as President: ‘Collaboration’ and ‘Look East.’ The 2nd Modernist Studies in Asia conference, Modernism and Multiple Temporalities, which ran from 12-14 September at Aoyama Gakuin University in Aoyama, Tokyo, served as an ideal venue at which to test these precepts. 

 The Society had two guaranteed panels, both of which were clustered around Pound, modernism, and East Asia. The first, East-West Chronotopes in Modernism, focused on Pound’s responses to Chinese and Japanese fine art and literature. Miho Takahashi (Kansai University) presented an informative talk on Pound’s relationship with Japanese literary sources, especially those from Noh theater. Takahashi demonstrated that that there is an important but relatively unexplored change in theme and execution between the Noh-inspired work Pound created when first under the spell of Ernest Fenollosa’s notebooks and Pound’s mature responses to Noh, including his Japanese-inflected translation of Sophocles’ Women of Trachis (1957). Mark Byron (University of Sydney) discussed the ways in which the Admonitions scroll (女史箴圖Admonitions of the Court Instructress), a Tang-era scroll acquired by the British Museum following its theft during the Taiping Rebellion, served as a visual impetus for modernist poets visiting the Museum’s reading room during the 1910s. The complicated history of the scroll, Byron argued, with its more than a millennium of involvement with Chinese and colonial politics, is inscribed in much Orientalist modernist poetry, even that of modernists unaware of the scroll’s historical significance. Finally, Tsuyoshi Hasebe (Kansai University), meanwhile, looked at Mori Kainan, whose lectures formed the basis of Fenollosa’s notebooks. Kainan’s Sinology influenced Fenollosa and, by extension, Pound, but the Japanese scholar’s influence on the development of modernism has largely gone unstudied. 

The second panel, Time and Translation in East-West Modernism, continued the theme of modernist translation and transnationalism unsettling standard chronologies East and West. Andrew Houwen (Tokyo Woman’s University) drew our attention to Pound’s reading of the Noh play Nishikigi. From Nishikigi, Houwen persuasively argued, Pound drew inspiration for Vorticism, namely the ‘vortex’ in which past and future whirl together. Ryan Johnson (University of Sydney) compared Pound’s and Paul Claudel’s uses of the Daoist thought of Wang Wei and Tao Yuanming, and argued that treatments of Chinese and Japanese literature and religion by Pound’s East Asian contemporaries should be more often compared with Pound’s own. Kita Yoshiko (Chuo University) turned to the late modernism Basil Bunting’s translation of the medieval “Hojiki,” a topic previously treated by Houwen, to craft a poem reflective of the fragility of interwar Britain. Though each paper differed in focus and scope, all six of the papers spoke to the immanence of medieval and early modern Chinese and Japanese art and literature to modernism. 

The keynote speakers, Douglas Mao (Johns Hopkins), Aaron Gerow (Yale), and Laura Marcus (Oxford), each encouraged the theme of multiple temporalities constructing the concept of ‘modernism.’ But it was Aaron Gerow who brought us back to Japan. If ‘multiple modernisms’ or a ‘Japanese modernism’ exists, Gerow contended, we will not be able to identify it by imposing on Japan foreign concepts of modernism and modernity. Rather, to understand how ‘modernism’ and Japan intersect, we should attempt to understand the literary landscape from a Japanese perspective and see what valency the term ‘modernism’ might have within that literary field. 

A variety of panels and papers would have appealed to members of the Society. An exhaustive list is impossible, but among them were Ira Nadel’s (University of British Columbia) paper on late style, Paul Giles’ (University of Sydney) exposition of his recent book Backgazing: Reverse Time in Modernist Culture, along with numerous interesting papers in panels including “Modernism and Alternative Temporalities,” “Japanese Modernisms,” and “Intersections of Time and Space.”

A summary of the conference would not be complete without acknowledging the people who made the conference possible: Fuhito Endo (Seikei University), Asako Nakai (Hitotsubashi University), Kohei Saito (Aoyama Gakuin University), Motonori Sato (Keio University), Kunio Shin (Aoyama Gakuin University), Yoshiki Tajiri (the University of Tokyo), Kyoko Yoshida (Ritsumeikan University), Erica Aso (Aoyama Gakuin University), Noriko Matsunaga (Waseda University), Akiko Mizoguchi (Tokyo Woman’s University) and Teppei Kuruma (Aoyama Gakuin University). Aside from ensuring the conference itself ran smoothly, the organizing committee provided a fine reception in Aoyama, while Kohei Sato organized a special dinner at Crista in Shibuya. Discussing French poetry with organizer Teppei Kuruma there was, for me, an unexpected highlight of the conference. 

The conference, then, not only functioned as a vehicle for the East Asian energies of the Society, but succeeded in bringing together scholars from across much of the world to discuss the limits and possibilities of modernism East and West, North and South, past and present. The renewed vigor of Modernism Studies was palpable throughout. We look forward to seeing many of you at the third annual conference in Shanghai next year. 


Modern Languages Association Convention, 9-12 January 2020, Seattle

The Ezra Pound Society Panel: Pacific Pound

Saturday 11 January, 1.45pm-3pm, Room 611, Washington State Convention Center

The Atlantic Ocean has served as a primary transit zone of cultural production and critical response for much of the history of Modernism Studies. More recently the field has sought to expand its focus to other regions, nations, and modes of literary and artistic expression in an attempt to chart a more inclusive model for what Modernism Studies can be. How might such an enterprise shape the reception of Ezra Pound – an author long positioned at or near the centre of the Modernist canon – and how might a reorientation to the Pacific Ocean provide new insights into his work and influence? Pound Studies has long taken seriously his engagements with China and Japan, but new work still needs to be done on his relation to other Pacific zones such as Australia, South America, and South-East Asia. What might we make of Pound’s occlusion of New Zealand, Polynesia and South-East Asia in light of his tendencies toward encyclopaedism? How might Pound be reconsidered in light of the rise (and perhaps the eclipse) of the Pacific Rim as a geopolitical and geoliterary concept? Papers will be considered that seek to address any of these questions or related questions that take the Pacific and its region(s), including China and Japan, as a point of departure for Pound’s poetry, prose, personal and professional affiliations, or influence.

Presiding: Demetres Tryphonopoulos, University of Alberta, Augustana

Respondent: Mark Byron, University of Sydney

Papers:

Ezra Pound and China: Pitting the Grain of Pure Language against the Wall of Untranslatability, Youngmin Kim, Dongguk University

A Little History of Ezra Pound and Arthur Waley, David Ewick, Tokyo Woman’s Christian University

Kodama and Beyond: Pound’s Reception in Japan in Recent Decades, Miho Takahashi, Kansai University

Pound, Fenollosa, and Transpacific Culture as a Medium for Poetic Practice, Julius Greve, University of Oldenburg