The Cantos of Ezra Pound

“All times are contemporaneous in the mind.” Ezra Pound’s CANTOS is a tough book. “It can’t all be done in one language,” Pound wrote, and the pages bristle with Greek, Latin, French, Russian, Spanish, & Occitain phrases, stanzas, fragments or bits. For North American poetry the book may be a beacon of “clarity” (as Allen Ginsberg put it), “it helps us to see.” But having a guide to help you through, to see the architecture of the whole, to point out landmarks and sources, helps a great deal. I had my own guides, and enjoy leading people through the territory, having  taught it at the Jack Kerouac School many times.

The class will immerse ourselves in “the Pound era,” Imagism, Vorticism, Ideogram composition. We’ll touch on contemporaries, those who Pound knew: HD, WC Williams, WB Yeats, Marianne Moore, Mina Loy &c. Then to ancestral presences: Troubadors of Provence, lyricists of classical Greek, poets of Tang Dynasty China, dancers of Japanese Noh. Homer, Ovid, and Dante will be guides, the course will move through time and space, visiting the planet’s politics & economics, arts & wars. “An epic is a poem that includes history”: the CANTOS.

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.

Sundays, 3-4:30 PM Pacific Time
Nov 19 & 26,
December 3, 10 & 17
Jan 7, 14 & 21
Some scholarships available.

Andrew Schelling, poet & translator, lives in the mountains of Colorado’s Front Range at 8000 feet, on a ridge between Four Mile and Black Diamond creeks (drain east into the Platte River). Eight books of poetry translated—Sanskrit & related tongues—old time poets. Contention over land use at Bears Ears prompted regular excursions into arid canyons that cradle rock art, ruins, & pre-history. Twenty-odd books include The Facts at Dog Tank SpringLove and the Turning Seasons: India’s Poetry of Spiritual & Erotic Longing, and Tracks Along the Left Coast: Jaime de Angulo & Pacific Coast Culture.


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