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T.S. Eliot once said that Ezra Pound is ‘more responsible for the twentieth-century revolution in poetry than any other individual’. His impact on modern poetry is undeniable, but who was Pound as a person, and how exactly did he ‘make it new’?
As one of the major literary figures of the twentieth century, Pound holds the foremost position in the modernist canon. Transgressing the boundaries of form, politics and time, his experiments with style proved radical in nature, instigating the formation of Imagism, an avant-garde movement that favoured precise imagery and clear, sharp language. As a translator and editor, Pound proved both ground-breaking and contentious. Pound’s poetry, most notably his highly influential work The Cantos was lauded as visionary, yet remains littered with his support for and defence of European fascism, raising the question: can we ever truly separate the art from the artist?
Join us as we attempt to pick apart Pound, from the pioneering to the problematic, in an evening hosted by Helen Carr, author of The Verse Revolutionaries: Ezra Pound, H.D. and the Imagists.
Carr will be joined by poet Will Harris who will examine the influence of Oriental poetry on Pound’s work, and Pound expert and author of The Bughouse: The Poetry, Politics and Madness of Ezra Pound, Daniel Swift. Celebrated RSC actor Geoffrey Streatfeild will also perform live readings of Pound’s poetry.
Dr Daniel Swift is a Senior Lecturer in English. He has a BA from Oxford University and a PhD from Columbia University in New York. He has written books about Ezra Pound, William Shakespeare, and the poetry of the Second World War, and also edited the poems of John Berryman.
Geoffrey Streatfeild is an English actor and has worked extensively in film, television, stage and radio. As well as starring in hit BBC series Spooks and The Thick of it, Geoffrey’s notable film and TV roles also include The Other Boleyn Girl and Kinky Boots. On stage, Geoffrey has appeared in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s ‘Histories’ company in many roles including Prince Hal/Henry V and Richard III.
Helen Carr is a Professor of English at Goldsmiths University. Her research is largely focused on American literature, particularly American poetry, women’s writing, feminist and postcolonial theory, and the relation between literature and anthropology. Helen is a co-editor of the journal Women: A Cultural Review and author of the book The Verse Revolutionaries: Ezra Pound, H.D. and the Imagists.
Will Harris is the author of Mixed-Race Superman (2018) – an essay examining resilience and self-creation, as well as a chapbook, All This is Implied, winner of the LRB Bookshop Poetry Pick for best pamphlet. A selection of his work was included in Ten: Poems of the New Generation; a full collection, provisionally entitled Rendang, is currently in the works. His poem SAY was shortlised for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem. Harris will be looking at the influence of Oriental aesthetic on Modernism, and discussing Pound’s impact upon his own work.