Pound, Ezra (1885-1972) by Scholes, Robert

Ezra Pound 1885-1972

Information about the life and work of Pound is widely available, so we will concentrate here on his relationship to the magazines of Britain and America in the second decade of the twentieth century. His own essay, “Small Magazines,” presents his view of this aspect of modernism from the perspective of 1930 and is well worth reading, for he was everywhere in the world of little magazines from 1910 into the twenties. He wrote extensively for The New Age under his own name and at least two aliases, adding music criticism as William Atheling, and art criticism as B. H. Dias.

He was also a force in the early years of Poetry, acting as Foreign Correspondent, publishing manifestos and criticism, urging publication of poets he found worthy (and his taste was excellent), and generally making his presence felt in this extraordinary monthly magazine. He attended Ford Madox Hueffer and Violet Hunt’s salon at South Lodge, too, and advised Hueffer about new writers when he founded The English Review.

He was also involved in the transformation of The New Freewoman into The Egoist, exerting an influence on the contents of this magazine, too. And, of course, he helped Wyndham Lewis launch Blast and contributed poetry and criticism to its pages as well. In Poetry, he had championed Imagism, and in Blast, Vorticism. The consistent theme throughout all his work in periodicals was the search for a modern mode of expression with which to capture the modern world in language.

Pound was a teacher as well as a poet, and he used the magazines as places for teaching readers how to read modern poetry, listen to modern music, and look at modern art—and how to criticize the arts and literature of the past as well. His energy and his critical acumen were unrivaled, and these were thoroughly displayed in the magazines during that extraordinary decade from 1910 to 1920. Perhaps the best view of his work in the early years of that decade was offered by the Chicago poet Carl Sandburg, in the pages of Poetry for February, 1916. We urge you to follow the link below and read what Sandburg had to say about “The Work of Ezra Pound.” —Robert Scholes

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