In Praise of Andrew Schelling’s Course on The Cantos

February 19, 2024

From Adelia MacWilliam, Board Member, Cascadia Poetics Lab:

Anyone writing poetry today has been influenced by Ezra Pound’s work whether they have read him or not. I have always been a fan of Pound’s much-anthologized translations in his book Cathay, important because they initiated the ideogrammatic method, but like many others, I avoided the Cantos because they looked so daunting. What I didn’t realize is that Pound is the mother (father?) tree in the forest of modern and postmodernism. The Cantos, drawing upon many sources such as translations, documentation, collaging and mythic engagements with history that employ the voices of multiple personae, are the earliest examples of kind of grand projects that have been part of the best long poems of the last century. Andrew Schelling makes a fine Virgil in this forest leading us back to Pound’s time and helping us gain a better understanding of his sources (his mother trees) and also his extraordinary life. I could ask for no better guide through the Cantos than Andrew, a fine poet in his own right, whose genuine love and understanding of Pound’s work and huge experience as a teacher make this course a revelation to anyone serious about understanding modern and post-modern poetics.

This will be a collaborative reading session. I (Andrew Schelling) am not an academic expert on the Cantos, but offer presence and insight. I’ve been a reader of Ezra Pound and his poetry for years. Coming at it as an active poet, I will point out structural aspects of the book that can baffle first-time readers. I will point to literary and political themes to help grasp why Pound’s Cantos have been such a tough but indispensable poem since he began it from the “smouldering boundary stones” of Troy and the wreckage of WW I until today. No one can read the book alone; we need to read it together. $200 for 8 sessions. READ MORE

Sundays 3-5:00 PM Pacific Time

March 10, 17, 24, 31
April 7, 14, 21, 28
Some scholarships available.


  1. Daniel Smith

    The best and most thorough insight I’ve ever experienced with The Cantos. Having spent a fair amount of time with Pound’s forty year poem during my gradual school days, I am overwhelmed by Andrew’s candid and accurate appraisals of some of my favorite segments of this long work. Especially finding the architecture of the whole to be formidable, The Cantos as Andrew sees them are cohesive, deep, and resonant examinations of the time and life of the poet. I heartedly recommend this wonderfully collaborative excursion into Pound to anyone wishing for a deeper dive into the mind, life, times and encyclopedic genius of this pivotal poetry shaping all who come after.

  2. Diana Elser

    Like Adelia, and Daniel, I took the first Cantos class, despite being scarred by earlier exposures to Pound in my undergrad days when I operated without life experience OR extensive exposure to poetry to provide any context for reading his work. Schelling’s exploratory approach and spirit of appreciation won me over. One comparison I can make is that I was raised Methodist (the more tolerant branch thereof) and so exposed to the Bible and Bible stories – and although I no longer consider myself Christian (I’m atheist), that exposure gave me rich linguistic and symbolic background which is key to understanding Christian influences in literature and American as well as other cultures. Pound’s work is that rich.

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