Editors’ Preface for Paideuma 37

As part of our showcase of the new volume of Paideuma, here is our editors’ preface — more previews to come soon:

For this special volume of Paideuma, we go back to our roots with an eighty-fifth birthday celebration of Mary de Rachewiltz, an important member of the scholarly community that gave rise to this journal and made its continued publication possible. De Rachewiltz’s contributions to the field are substantial. In addition to her magisterial translation of the Cantos (I Canti [Mondadori, 1985]), she is the author of a beautiful memoir, Ezra Pound, Father and Teacher: Discretions (New Directions, 2005). After having long labored at Yale’s Beinecke Library, where she lent her special familiarity with her father’s work to the organization and cataloguing of its Ezra Pound Archive, she has made a permanent home for Pound scholarship at Brunnenburg Castle in the Italian South Tyrol. We are pleased to honor her here with a portfolio of documentary material edited and introduced by Richard Sieburth.

Mary de Rachewiltz’s long relationship with the NPF began in 1985 at the Ezra Pound Centennial Conference, where she sat on a panel with Hugh Kenner to give a talk entitled “Remembering Pound the Poet.” She was also part of a roundtable at the end of the conference that included Robert Creeley, Donald Davie, Allen Ginsberg, Hugh Kenner, James Laughlin, Marjorie Perloff, M.L. Rosenthal, Olga Rudge, and Walter Sutton. At the William Butler Yeats-Ezra Pound Celebration Conference in 1990, she gave a keynote address, “A Pilgrim to Erin Shrines,” and was part of a discussion group that included Kenner, Sutton, Peter Dale Scott, and Carroll Terrell. Her first contribution to an NPF publication appeared in H.D.: Woman and Poet (1986). She subsequently contributed to three special issues of Paideuma, festschrifts for Mary Barnard (1994), Carroll Terrell (1997), and James Laughlin (2002).

In her 1994 tribute to Mary Barnard, de Rachewiltz described Barnard’s Assault on Mount Helicon as “the most dignified, informative and sincere literary memoir I have ever read.” This is a statement Evelyn Haller might apply to de Rachewiltz’s own Discretions. Haller’s “Shadows on the Rock: A Book in American English Ezra Pound Gave His Daughter” is the first of four scholarly essays that follow the portfolio edited by Sieburth. A shorter version of Haller’s essay was printed in the proceedings for the 17th International Ezra Pound Conference. We are happy to include the full text here, in conjunction with Sieburth’s portfolio. The other three essays are also appropriate to this context. Sean Pryor’s “‘How Will You Know?’: Paradise, Painting, and the Writing of Ezra Pound’s Canto 3” looks at Pound directly in a reading of Canto 3 as an early attempt to “write paradise.” Jeffrey Westover and Joshua Clover look at two Poundian themes: economics and history. Westover (who, like Pryor, is appearing in Paideuma for the second time) brings fresh insight to Lorine Niedecker’s work by reading it in the context of local history. “‘My Sense of Property’s / Adrift’: Attitudes toward Land, Property, and Nation in Lorine Niedecker” juxtaposes colonial and native attitudes about ownership. Clover’s “‘A Form Adequate to History’: Toward a Renewed Marxist Poetics” closes the issue with a programmatic statement on poetry’s significance for theory. His perspective is global, with examples (Apollinaire, Frank O’Hara, Rolf Dieter Brinkmann) drawn from three stages of capitalist development.

Paideuma 38, slated for publication in 2011, includes articles by Ondrea Ackerman, Russell Brickey, Natalie Gerber, Matthew Hofer, Charles Kraszewski, and Catherine Paul, as well as an interview with Basil Bunting conducted by James Laughlin and Lawrence Pitkethly, prefaced by Richard Swigg.

—Tyler Babbie, Alison Fraser, and Benjamin Friedlander

There is also a preface by Richard Sieburth to the portfolio he edited. We will give some excerpts from that in the coming days.

To get the word out about this volume we are pleased to be able to offer it at a special discount. Paideuma subscriptions for individuals are $30 a year domestic and $40 outside the U.S. Through March readers of this blog can purchase Paideuma 37 (and our previous volume, 36 [link]) at the low price of $20 (or $30 for orders outside the U.S).

To order, please call Gail Sapiel at  207-581-3813 or send her an email at gail [dot] sapiel [at] umit [dot] maine [dot] edu.  Tell her that you read about the new issue on the blog to receive this promotional discount.

Announcing Paideuma 37

Tyrolean mask from the cover of Tiroler Masken by Mary de Rachewiltz (Milan: All’Insegna del Pesce d’Oro, 1960). Ezra Pound: “where the masks come from, in the Tirol, / in the winter season / searching every house to drive out the demons” (Canto 74).

Hello everyone!

The National Poetry Foundation blog has been quiet for a few months, as we have been working overtime in the preparation of two volumes of Paideuma. If both volumes appear this year, as we fully expect (and by “year” we mean the academic year, Fall 2010-Spring 2011), the journal will truly be caught up, on schedule, and ready to move forward at a brisk pace. This is the culmination of a lot of planning and a lot of work over the last four years, about which we will have more to say in the near future. For now, we wanted to announce the appearance of the first of those two volumes, Paideuma 37 (2010), a handsome collection of documents and essays — over 350 pages! — the majority celebrating Mary de Rachewiltz, whose 85th birthday we mark with a special section. This section (edited by Richard Sieburth) features several facsimiles that will be of keen interest to readers of Ezra Pound. In the coming days we will be posting brief excerpts.

Cover of January 1939 issue of Reijokai (Young Ladies’ World), a Japanese girl’s magazine. A Japanese translation of “Gais: The Beauties of the Tirol,” written in 1937 by then-twelve-year-old Mary de Rachewiltz, was published in this issue.

Longtime readers of Paideuma will need no introduction to Mary de Rachewiltz. Ezra Pound’s daughter and translator, and a fine poet in her own right, she is the author of an extraordinary memoir, Ezra Pound, Father and Teacher: Discretions, and a longtime supporter of Pound scholarship, first at Yale (home of the Ezra Pound Papers), now at Brunnenburg Castle, Italy, where she founded The Ezra Pound Center for Literature.

In addition to the documentary material in our birthday tribute, Paideuma 37 features essays on Ezra Pound, Lorine Niedecker, and Marxist poetics. More on these soon! For the full contents, see our entry for the volume on the Paideuma blog, which includes tables of contents for the entire run of the journal (link).

To get the word out about this volume we are pleased to be able to offer it at a special discount. Paideuma subscriptions for individuals are $30 a year domestic and $40 outside the U.S. Through March readers of this blog can purchase Paideuma 37 (and our previous volume, 36 [link]) at the low price of $20 (or $30 for orders outside the U.S).

To order, please call Gail Sapiel at  207-581-3813 or send her an email at gail [dot] sapiel [at] umit [dot] maine [dot] edu.  Tell her that you read about the new issue on the blog to receive this promotional discount.

Mary de Rachewiltz is 85 Today!

“The urge to write my own story took hold of me at an early age. I must have been eight when I started very formally: ‘My name is Maria Rudge. I was born on the 9th of July 1925 in Bressanone. Nine days I had to live under a glass bell because I was not ripe. … I have blond hair and blue eyes. … I also have a little white dog called Turggile and a black lamb which lives with me…. It is a nice fat lamb with curly fleece.'” — Ezra Pound, Father and Teacher: Discretions

This excerpt hardly gives a sense of the great interest or poetic power of Mary de Rachewiltz‘s autobiography, but it’s an appropriate one for this day in particular. Stay tuned for a birthday tribute in Paideuma, volume 37, a marvelous portfolio assembled by Richard Sieburth.

Il Rebus Pound

Click on image for larger view

From EPOUND-L, the Ezra Pound Discussion List (hosted by the University of Maine), comes a link to an April 14th story in Corriere della Sera concerning Ezra Pound’s politics. The article is framed as a debate between two Italian Poundians, Luca Gallesi and Piero Sanavio, but the real antagonists are CasaPound (Pound House), a center for extreme-right youth in Rome, and Mary de Rachewiltz, who recently denounced the center’s appropriation of her father’s name. That denunciation appeared in a Corriere story published on April 1st (link); the immediate occasion for the new story was CasaPound’s response, which the paper published as a sidebar.

Posters put up in Piazza Vittorio where on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. there will be a rally celebrating the election of Renata Polverini to the presidency of the region of Lazio

Note, by the way, that CasaPound was also in the news recently for having plastered the city illegally with its political posters (the picture and caption to the right come from an April 8th story; link).

The url shared on the Pound list goes to a .pdf of the text as it appeared in print, which we’ve reproduced above — you can see the sidebar at the end of this post; Corriere‘s website also gives a digital version (link). Thanks to Carla Billitteri of the NPF editorial collective, we’re able to offer a quick translation, along with some relevant extracts from the April 1st story. Here and there Billitteri has modified the idiomatic Italian to make the meaning more legible. We’re also thankful to Massimo Bacigalupo for clarifying the context.

Debate Gallesi: He was above all an American patriot. Sanavio: It is wrong to consider him a philosopher.

Fascist or Genius, the Pound Puzzle

Scholars are divided. Meanwhile youth of the right invite the daughter


“Here error is all in the not done, / all in the diffidence that faltered.” Cited from the Cantos, these verses of Ezra Pound can be found as the epigraph to the book Hobbit/Hobbit, a gathering of texts by right-wing youth dating back to 1982, now republished in an expanded version edited by Marco Tarchi with the title La rivoluzione impossibile (Vallecchi, 579 pgs, €18). As one example among many of the interest in the work of the American poet demonstrated by these heretics of neofascism: the late Giano Accame and his Ezra Pound economista (Settimo Sigillo).

Since 2003 CasaPound is the trademark of a group of youth who occupy abandoned buildings and transform them into social centers for the right, harking back to the poet’s ideas and making a show of symbols of fascist origin. They have ignited a reaction from Mary de Rachewiltz, daughter of Pound, who in an interview with Marzio Breda, published in Corriere on April 1st, has rejected any attempt to instrumentalize her father’s thinking.

The youth of CasaPound, by way of their president, Gianluca Iannone, reply, inviting Mrs. de Rachewiltz to visit their site in person to ascertain that their interest in the poet is well-considered and genuine. “Pound’s polemic against usury and the excessive power of banks” — adds Adriano Scianca, cultural spokesperson for the movement — “seems to us totally contemporary and aligned with our vision of the world. When we ask for a social mortgage to facilitate the home-buying of families, we are simply applying a point of the Verona manifesto of the Italian Social Republic praised by Pound in the Cantos: the idea that the right to own a home is not a right ‘of ownership,’ that is a right of real-estate speculatoirs, but a right ‘to own,’ that is a right of workers who are in need.”

But was Pound really a blackshirt author? Luca Gallesi, author of Le origini del fascismo in Ezra Pound (Ares), has some reservations: “I feel sympathy for the youth of CasaPound, but I believe that Mary de Rachewiltz is right to argue that their approach is a bit superficial. The poet was above all an American patriot connected to the American populist movement, which gathered small business and farmers in protest against financial speculators. He saw in fascism a third way, a national and spirital answer to the crisis of mercantile capitalism, but I find debatable the harking back to Pound in the name of a right-wing, Anti-American ideology.”

In contrast, Piero Sanavio, author of La gabbia di Pound (Fazi), has no doubts: “I knew him personally and remember him as a man of great generosity, but from the ideological point of view Pound was organically tied to fascism. He had an authoritarian idea of the State, he supported not only Mussolini but also Franco, and even joined the Republic of Salò. Genial talent from the literary point of view, in politics he was greatly naive. Suffice it to say that he found the positions of Il Duce and that of an enlightened democrat such as Thomas Jefferson overlapping.”

Ready with an objection, Scianca: “The image of Pound as deluded, deceived by fascism, does not convince: his was a conscious choice for which he paid harshly. And it is perplexing that one can praise him as a poet while devaluing his economic ideas, whose validity is demonstrated by the financial crisis.” Sanavio invites a distinction: “Pound was treated in an inhuman way by the American authority and his suffering deserves human sympathy. But he must be read as a poet, not as philospopher, sociologist, or economist. After all, his critique of usury is not original: a similar concept can be found in the writing of Dante and Sant’Ambrogio, even in the Bible.” Gallesi disagrees: “The contemporary economic crisis certainly does not derive from a problem of scarcity, but from mechanisms that privilege the speculative profit and weaken the purchasing power of families. How can we not acknolwedge that Pound was right on the mark in his attack on usury?”

Click on image for larger view

Before translating the sidebar — shown to the right — here is an excerpt from the earlier story (“Hands Off My Father Ezra Pound“), as it sets up CasaPound’s response:

[Mary de Rachewiltz] leafs through a selection of Italian magazines and realizes that “the black tide of the third millennium” is growing, always in the name of her father: the CasaPound movement. These articles describe “social and cultural initiatives” promoted by the extreme-right network (battles for the home, maternity and self-sufficiency in food and agriculture), but also describe “gatherings organized with martial discipline” by a “holy mob” that distinguishes itself with “leather jackets, shaved heads, and flags with gothic symbols.” And she observes on the internet a sequence from a video exemplifying the taste for certain “warrior practices” by these militants, who “whip each other while dancing” …

And the article continues:

Mary de Rachewiltz … pours out her dismay. “This is another way of putting Pound in a cage, like that of the Disciplinary Training Center of Pisa, where he was segregated, the Guantanamo of 1945. A tremendous damage, because it is born of a distortion of the meaning of his work, and because it runs the risk of compromising again his full critical recognition. An abuse, because in this way they corner him in an ambiguous dimension that goes beyond the reactionary toward a regressive cipher. And because they uphold him to youth of confused mind as a prophet who is so much more fascinating insofar as he is dangerous and forbidden.” For the heir of the poet, in other words, “we cannot remain diplomatic” while judging those pretending to be the “grandchildren of Pound.” They have elevated him to a cult object against an almost mystic-esoteric background. And they have placed him among their ideal ancestors, evoking as a slogan some of his phrases, “more or less inflammatory, fished here and there without logic” from the time in which he supported Mussolini. Which “for my father was the moment of fracture, very complex.” And which, for this reason, ought to be reconsidered, according to her, on the basis of often-neglected variables. Beginning with his vision of history, because, she explains, “he was more interested in ethics than politics. And about Mussolini he used to say, he would have liked educating him. And that Mussolini was destroyed because he didn’t follow the dictates of Confucius.” It is a defense that Mrs. de Rachewiltz, translator and philologist of the paternal work, who lives in Tirolo di Merano, allows herself with some discomfort. Because for her it should be the scholars who hold Pound’s memory close to heart who “fight against certain undue appropriations.”

And here is the sidebar:

Letter of CasaPound

“Come and see us Mrs. de Rachewiltz”

Gianluca Iannone, president of CasaPound, is ready to take his chance. He is prompted by Mary de Rachewiltz’s complaint to Corriere regarding the scant interest of cultural academics in her father. He denies he wanted to instrumentalize the name of Pound and takes credit for having “broken the stereotypes and overcome the ostracisms” weighted against him. “It is for this reason” — writes Iannone to Mrs. de Rachewiltz — “that we say come and see us. This is an official invitation. Come and see us, overcome the useless polemics based on nothing. Come and see if really anyone here is forcing Pound in a new cage. Come and see us and judge with your own eyes and without interested mediations what is the commitment of our human community in carrying forward day after day the battles that were Pound’s.”

All of which parallels the appropriation of Pound by the Tea Party Movement (noted here last month). Stay tuned for further developments.

Mary de Rachewiltz Poems

I meant to post a notice a month ago that there were three poems by Mary de Rachewiltz in the January issue of Poetry. You can read all three of them online:


Giving Birth

She Stands

I was reminded of this yesterday by a visit to Lippincott’s, the local used book store, where I found a copy of de Rachewiltz’s For the Wrong Reason: Poems (Edgewise, 2002), which the author inscribed to my late colleague Constance Hunting, who published some of the work in Puckerbrush Review.

An odd feature of this book is its method of organization, which de Rachewiltz explains in her preface:

In an era of artificial intelligence and time rules, it is more expedient and economical to present poems in alphabetical order. Since “all ages are contemporaneous” and we can “live a thousand years in a wink,” it matters little in what year a certain emotion ran wild and broke the sound barrier.

The two quoted phrases are often-cited dicta by her father, Ezra Pound, and come from The Spirit of Romance and The Cantos, respectively. Turning to I Canti (Mondadori, 1985), de Rachewiltz’s Italian edition of The Cantos — the first, I believe, to include the two Italian poems, 72 and 73 — I find the following rendering of the relevant lines from Canto 114: “per regnare, danzare in un labirinto, / E vivere mille anni in un attimo” (“to reign, to dance in a maze / To live a thousand years in a wink”).

I should add that this is my favorite edition of the Cantos: the English text is clear and reliable (to my understanding, the most reliable in print); and the book itself is small enough to fit in a coat pocket, notwithstanding all the pages added by translation. Whenever I hold the book in my hands, I think of Pound slipping a copy of Confucius into his pocket, along with a Chinese dictionary, when the partisans arrested him. If ever a poet cried out for a pocket-sized edition, it was Pound.

This year Mary de Rachewiltz celebrates her eightieth birthday, so stay tuned for more notices of her work. In the meantime, here is an untitled poem from For the Wrong Reason:

Her drama is wholly subjective
She provides her own chorus
On a stage where shuffling feet fall
Over the edge, inwardly
& all quick steps run from her
To the end of an empty world.
In the both’s endless
Horizon the desert presents
A mirage of the infinite
Symmetries and numbers
That follow the pull of arcane laws
Until the chorus sings: gloria,
Gloria. This is my beloved.
And she answers: kyrie.

Paideuma 35.3


Poetics Forum

Barrett Watten, “Faultlines in Poetics: Culture / Politics / Economics / Generation”

Maria Damon, “Two Modernist Precursors in Cultural Studies and Poetics: (How) Can They Help Us Now?”

George Hartley, “Under the Sign of Paideuma: Scary Ideograms & The New Fascisms”

Joel Nickels, “The Art of Interruption: William Carlos Williams and New Materialist Poetics”

Sarah Ruddy, “‘Bad Timing’ and Language Poetry in Benjamin Friedlander’s Simulcast


Morgan Myers, “Ezra Pound Me Fecit: Memorial Object and Autonomous Poem in The Cantos

Steve Pinkerton, “Profaning the Communion Table: Mina Loy and the Modernist Poetics of Blasphemy”

Bruce Holsapple, “On Whalen’s Use of Voice”


Jane Augustine (Analyzing Freud: The Letters of H.D., Bryher and Their Circle, ed. Susan Stanford Friedman; and Rachel Connor, H.D. and the Image)

Richard L. Blevins (Michael Heller, Uncertain Poetries)

Patricia Cockram (Ira B. Nadel, Ezra Pound: A Literary Life; and Ezra Pound, Early Writings: Poems and Prose, ed. Ira B. Nadel)

Leon Surette (Mary de Rachewiltz, Ezra Pound, Father and Teacher: Discretions; and Ezra Pound, The Spirit of Romance)

The cover features a handwritten page from The Collected Poems of Philip Whalen (Wesleyan UP, 2007).

With the conclusion of volume 35 Paideuma moves to a biannual format, though our plan for the foreseeable future is to publish double issues only. The once-a-year format is better suited to our present staffing situation and should help us maintain a regular production schedule. Stay tuned for news about volumes 36 and 37.