Brian Stefans at free space comix has a review of two new Pound editions, The Pisan Cantos (New Directions) and Poems and Translations (Library of America); they both sound like attractive, well-annotated books, and I look forward to giving them a spin around the block. I particularly like Stefans’s peroration:

Compare this variety, optimism and excitement to the expressions of cultural exhaustion prevalent now in the United States, in which you would think — after a century of the most manic and ambitious explorations into the most divergent writing styles, from Derek Walcott to Barrett Watten, going back to Emily Dickinson and coming up to now with Christian Bök — that there are only two flavors of writing: “post avant” and “official verse.” What Pound asked of poets was that they peek out of the hole, partake in some intellectual “dissociation” — certainly beyond any tedious question of “lineage” and beyond the borders of our own self-centered country — to set the stage for this “renaissance.” Our lack of concern with metrics beyond occasional lip service paid to the repetition of vowel sounds and like matter (here on Silliman’s Island) regardless of a phrasing’s cultural base or an examination of the larger corpus from which a cadence arose, has been detrimental to our present culture of poetry, in which the line is often equated with some statement of cultural allegiance, rather than the bow and viola that Pound would have us believe.

Give me metrics or give me prose! (Via wood s lot.)


  1. or metric prose as well
    measure the line between the tide and the sea
    it’s never where it was
    and only where it is as it is now
    slipping toward and/or away
    or always toward and/or always away
    the line that cuts poetic speech from spoken
    poetry is never drawn by poets speaking
    especially those ectoscruffian word-enterists whose lives
    are one unpunctuated sentence after another of half-thought half-felt
    none-whole blurts and gassy peeps.
    it’s just the same with the page, the life
    in the line’s in the heart the eye
    brings the word home to
    through the gantlet of the mind’s tribal order
    who puts the measure of poetry above the poem itself
    would sell the moon to buy love
    the imperative of sing is sing

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