Saturday, October 30, 2010

Haunted by Pound

Today is the birthday of Ezra Pound, whose earlier achievements have been overshadowed by his later beliefs. I remember Ezra Pound most because of his connection to T.S. Eliot. But almost every writer of the 1920's that we Brit Lit geeks love got some measure of support and/or promotion from Pound. Today is a good day to celebrate those writers who go out of their way to support other writers.

Or maybe it's a good day to celebrate taking extravagant risks. Today's post on The Writer's Almanac notes, "In his early 20s, he started teaching literature at a small college in the Midwest. But he caused a scandal by allowing a stranded vaudeville actress to sleep over at his place. He was fired. But the college gave him the rest of his year's salary, and he headed off to Europe with it."

What a way to make lemonade when life gives you lemons! Imagine how our literary landscape would have been so different, if Pound had stayed in a quiet teaching life in the Midwest.

I wonder if future generations will look back at our generation and admire our bravery. You ask, how are we brave? Well, we continue to create, even in the face of unspeakable odds. Most days, our planet seems doomed, and if not our planet, certainly our species. Some species do well in hot, acidic oceans, but not humans. And if we can overlook the rather dire outlook from a global perspective, it's still a time of great change. Whole industries that once supported writers seem to be disappearing as quickly as Arctic ice caps. We've seen newspapers practically disappear, and I'm not sure that higher education might not be far behind.

Yet we also live in a time of breathtaking innovation. Many of us can be Ezra Pounds to each other because of the Internet. I love zipping around to other blogs to see what creative types are up to. I regularly go to Sandy Longhorn's blog to tune in to her drafting process. She talks about her creative approaches, and I often find myself inspired; and I often go in a direction in my own writing that I wouldn't have considered, had I not read her posts. Similarly, I would never have thought to experiment with video poems and book trailers, had it not been for the blogs of Diane Lockward and Sandra Beasley. People have begun to use the computing power that's now accessible and cheap in all sorts of interesting ways that wouldn't have been available even 15 years ago; Diane Lockward's recent post spotlights three fascinating projects, but anyone who spends even a small amount of time Internet surfing knows how much is out there.

So today, as we go about our week-ends, raise a glass to Ezra Pound--not Ezra Pound the supporter of fascists, but Ezra Pound, the supporter of other writers. And as we think about Halloween and all the things that spook or scare us, let us resolve not to let other writers scare us. Let us resolve to let the success of others motivate us. Let us remember that creating is not a zero sum game. Just because you came up with a cool idea/thing/approach/creation doesn't mean that the universe is now out of support for me. On the contrary, your creative vibe enriches me--and I'm hoping that my creative vibes will do the same!

1 comment:

Sandy Longhorn said...

Thanks for the shout-out, Kristin. I get such satisfaction out of writing those process posts, and it delights me that they have helped you too.

Also, I had no idea about Pound's connection to the Midwest, so thanks for that as well.