In the metro, short and quick

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A drawing of Ezra Pound by Henri Gaudier-Brzes...

A drawing of Ezra Pound by Henri Gaudier-Brzeska (1891-1915) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s a conversation that took place one winter in Rome between the poet Ezra Pound and interviewer Donald Hall. Published in the Summer/Fall 1962 issue of The Paris Review, the interview revealed Pound’s ideas about where literature was headed:

And now one has got with the camera an enormous correlation of particulars. That capacity for making contact is a tremendous challenge to literature. It throws up the question of what needs to be done and what is superfluous.

I have just started to read Ezra Pound. Consider the power of what must be one of the shortest poems in history for example: his stark and direct style, sharp as a sushi knife, was the hallmark of the modern poets. Far from tiny, this 14-word poem crackles with heat, energy, and longing. I had stumbled onto this poem after reading Dante‘s Inferno, and the meaning just exploded for me, along with every nerve in my body.

Pound also commented on the interplay of form and experience. I am both frightened and fascinated with poetic form and structure, and what they have to offer despite (or maybe because of) strict parameters.

It’s exciting to read about the changes and movement in the writing world as they were happening, and as Pound saw them. What does his comment about photography mean? I don’t have the answer, but I’ve been trying to figure this out for myself. This is the challenge of the contemporary writer faced with a gazillion ways to make meaning: writing that is precise; tells a story with depth of emotion and color; and captures truth (or what’s true for the writer) and authenticity, as faithfully as any photograph.