This year marks the centenary of Pound’s publication of Quai Pauper Amavi (London: The Egoist, 1919): a volume of epochal significance to Pound studies and modernist poetics. It presented ‘Three Cantos’ to the public, initiating a project that would occupy the greater part of Pound’s creative life for the next half-century. This volume also included the poems of Homage to Sextus Propertius, following from their partial publication in Poetry earlier in the year, and the poem ‘Langue d’Oc,’ a timely Provençal gesture following his walking tour during which he and Dorothy Shakespear met with T. S. Eliot in Excideuil. The essays comprising Instigations were also published in 1919 in The Little Review, making it a pivotal year in Pound’s career, both in prose and poetry.
A century on and the Ezra Pound Society has enjoyed a bumper year, beginning with the dedicated session on ‘The End of the Pound Era’ at the MLA convention in Chicago on 5 January – featuring talks by Jean-Michel Rabaté, Lizzy Le Rud, Benjamin Smith, and yours truly – and concluding with this issue of Make It New. 11 January 2020 sees the next EPS panel at the Seattle MLA convention on the subject ‘Pacific Pound,’ featuring Youngmin Kim, David Ewick, Miho Takahashi, and Julius Greve. In between there were sessions sponsored by the Society at the Modernism Studies in Asia conference at Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo in September, among other conference activity. But the focal point of Pound Studies in 2019 was the 29th Ezra Pound International Conference hosted by Viorica Patea at the University of Salamanca, 25-29 June. What an outstanding event it was! Reviews of both Tokyo and Salamanca appear in the current issue.
This year has been one of distinction in terms of book publication in Pound Studies: Timothy Billings’s deluxe edition of Cathay – reviewed by Andy Houwen in this issue – was published on 4 December 2018 by Fordham University Press but its e-pub date allows it to count as an early 2019 publication. January saw Pierre Rival’s Ezra Pound en enfer published by L’Herne, reviewed by Ryan Johnson in this issue, as well as Bloomsbury’s publication of Ezra Pound’s and Olga Rudge’s The Blue Spill: A Manuscript Critical Edition, edited by Mark Byron and Sophia Barnes – the great unfinished clue-puzzle detective fiction collaboration finally to emerge from its Beinecke crypt.
Three major collections of essays were published in 2019, each making significant interventions in the field: The Edinburgh Companion to Ezra Pound and the Arts, edited by Roxana Preda; A Companion to Ezra Pound’s Economics, edited by Ralf Lüfter and Roxana Preda (Nordhausen: Verlag Traugott Bautz); and The New Ezra Pound Studies, edited by Mark Byron (Cambridge University Press). Finally, two monographs address foundational questions of the role of Greek Tragedy and the role of language theory in understanding Pound’s work: Peter Liebregts’s Translations of Greek Tragedy in the Work of Ezra Pound (Bloomsbury) and James Dowthwaite’s Ezra Pound and Twentieth-Century Theories of Language (Routledge). Information concerning the more recent of these publications can be found in the section What’s New in this issue. Those books not yet to receive a review in Make It New will have done so in 2020.
This issue of Make It New also contains reviews of several key publications, among them: Alec Marsh’s review of Anderson Araujo’s Companion to Ezra Pound’s Guide to Kulchur (Clemson and Liverpool University Presses, 2018), which is this issue’s book in focus; and V. M. Tolmatchoff’s review of A. V. Bronnikov’s translation of The Cantos into Russian (Saint Petersburg: Nauka, 2018), the first such complete translation (Karina Ibragimova kindly translated Tolmatchoff’s review into English). Three substantial essays also appear in this issue: Gordon McKechnie’s illustrated account of Pound’s third walking tour in southern France in 1923; Judith Hendra’s essay on Pound, Beatrice Hastings, and the New Age magazine; and Kazuko Nagamori’s essay on Japanese Modernism and Jun’ichiro Takazaki’s story Himitsu (Nagamori-san’s essay features a brief introduction by Ryan Johnson). Andrew Houwen’s interview with Taira Sōsei (‘Metro Lines’) also features, on the subject of Pound’s influence upon the Japanese poetic genre of Senryū, demonstrating the enduring influence of Pound’s ‘In a Station of the Metro’ on Japanese poetics. Along with Archie Henderson’s Fact Check on the figure of Paul Peters (a response to a query by David Moody in the previous issue), and poetry by Ron Smith and Silvia Falsaperla, this Summer-Autumn issue should tide us over well into the New Year.
The year’s end also marks a time of reflection, not only for the collective achievements of the Pound community in 2019 but also for the losses and absences we sustain. Emily Mitchell Wallace was known to a great many of us and it was a huge blow to learn of her passing away on 29 September. Her contributions to Pound Studies – not to mention her work on William Carlos Williams, HD, and others – were substantial and long-standing. Archie Henderson has provided a bibliography of Emily’s scholarly work, included alongside her obituary as the leading section of this double issue of Make It New, which is dedicated to her memory.
Pound Studies also faced a few challenges that, sadly, appear to define the temper of 2019 – emboldened appropriations of Pound’s name by elements of the far right, and patterns of harassment suffered by members of our community by individuals of similarly far right political sympathies. During the Salamanca EPIC conference I was informed about one such pattern of disruption and intimidation that has persisted in a Pound reading group over the past year, my response to which was to make a statement at the conference business meeting in support of our members and their activities, edited as follows:
The Ezra Pound Society is a community of scholars, poets, colleagues, and friends who share an interest in the life and work of the American poet Ezra Pound. The Society advocates for its members to pursue their work unimpeded from harassment or intimidation of any kind, and to exercise the right to share their work with interested colleagues. The Society supports open discussion and debate concerning the matter of Pound’s work, as well as collaboration with other literary societies and related bodies. Any impingement upon the liberties of its members will be considered as a potential assault upon the Society’s operations. The Ezra Pound Society collaborates with other related societies in developing specific policies and protocols to protect members from enduring antisocial or unwanted attention.
Should members experience any such antisocial or intimidating behaviour in the course of their work on Pound, I would invite them to contact the Society directly. As indicated above, work is underway with the James Joyce Society, the Samuel Beckett Society, and other related scholarly societies to devise a set of policies that both clarify the liberties members should expect to have within their societies, as well as to establish clear protocols for dealing with any impediment to members’ activities.
Make It New readers and society members are encouraged to help shape Pound Studies now and into the future. On behalf of the Society committee, please have a happy and safe holiday, and best wishes for the New Year(s), both Gregorian and Lunar.
Mark Byron, University of Sydney