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This elliptical account leaves much unsaid, my own view of the split was that it was probably exacerbated by the fact the Oppen, who had money, was publishing his book of poems and with an introduction from Pound , while Zukofsky, who did not have money, was not. Elsewhere in her account, Mary Oppen tells other stories that indicate class-based stressors in the relationship between Zukofsky and her husband Serly off to Europe with my final arrangement and additions to 55 Poems—a most commendable typescript for you to look at.
Time fucks it, and if I keep my MSS. Enclosure should have probably gone into Westminster, if it reached you in time. Do you think Mr. Eliot would see it? And Random House continues to print beeyutiful volumes of shit by Spender and Auden. Noo Yok at a standstill. Reznikoff, who had both trained as a lawyer and was the only member of the group to own, in the form of a hand-operated printing press, the literal means of production, also retained the copyright for the press.
When it came to the problem of publication, Zukofsky devoted a great deal of energy to trying to form and sustain two publishing collectives for which he had provided the central organizing force and served as editor. Zukofsky, Pound, and Williams all wrote to Rexroth in support of the venture, offering selections of their own work for consideration and providing extensive lists of authors they felt might be interested in being included in the series. Pound and Zukofsky discussed Rexroth and his proposed publishing venture in several letters from and , with Zukofsky telling Pound in a letter:.
Also it seems he has been quarrelsome with his patrons. You might write him and mention particulars he sends in Poetry. Of course, I should like to do [i. Unfortunately for Rakosi and others who may have had been making similar plans with Rexroth, the RMR Press never advanced beyond the planning stage, despite the several recommendations and clear expressions of interest by both Pound and Zukofsky.
A Premature Attempt at the 21st Century Canon
I have tried to omit repetitions, whether by the same author or a different one. The omission of certain writers before implies generally a direct censure or disapproval, that of writers since implies merely unfamiliarity or ignorance of their work. Eliot served as a literary advisor. That in itself is not a certificate of creative ability, but it does imply a freedom from certain forms of gross error and from certain kinds of bungling which will indubitably consign many other contemporary writings to the ash-bin.
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I have not attempted to represent all of the new poets, I am leaving the youngest, possibly some of the brightest, to someone else or to future effort, not so much from malice or objection to perfect justice, as from inability to do everything all at once. There are probably fifty very bright poems that are not here assembled. The assertion implicit in this volume is that after ten or twenty years of serious effort you can consider a writer uninteresting, but the charges of flightiness or dilettantism are less likely to be valid. I do not in the least doubt that quite a number, say 20 or 30 poets between the ages of 20 and 40 have written better poems that some of those here included.
Bridson, T. Eliot, and Pound himself. Pound had assembled the anthology fairly quickly, sending Zukofsky a carbon copy of a call for submissions in late February.
In the letter which accompanied it, Pound told the younger poet:. Can you help ole Bill Walrnss [Williams] to sort hiz self out. Shall prob. I want another 15 Pages of him. The Reznikoff will appear to the Brit. It is I think just as good as parts of Lustra , neither better nor worse. Very cleanly done but no advance in methodology.
Remember an anth. The title of the Anth. If I omit H. Rexroth and the rest unsatisfactory. I know of no case where an author has developed at all without at least temporarily sacrificing one or several of his initial merits. In his introduction to the anthology, Tyler stated that his intention was to. These poems have been collected with applied reference to the unity of a continuous contemporary literary impulse, operating through related and developing modes of writing.
If any work pertinent to this process has been omitted, the omission is either casual or, where certain fakeries are involved, deliberate. Eliot, Ezra Pound, E. In this way, tradition has been emphasized rather than slurred in modern poetry. Carl Rakosi, who has the excellence of a sterling pupil. He has been influenced largely by Pound and Williams and forms an inescapable similarity to Louis Zukofsky, than whom, however, he is less variable; his good workmanship and confidence of carriage always command attention, and his poems often seem to be fresh and whole results, despite the tendency toward fragmentariness.
Louis Zukofsky, who brings a gracile metric and a swift apprehension to his subjects; he is as philosophical as an experimenter can be, and when he observes a certain precautious depth is always rewarding. It is apparent, in my opinion, … that Mr.watch
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Rakosi and Mr. Zukofsky are passionate masters of their apprenticeship. The little magazine is something I have always fostered; for without it, I myself would have been early silenced. To me it is one magazine, not several. It is a continuous magazine, the only one I know with an absolute freedom of editorial policy and a succession of proprietorships that follows a democratic rule. There is absolutely no dominating policy permitting anyone to dictate anything. When it dies, someone else takes it up in some other part of the country — quite by accident — out of a desire to get the writing down on paper.
I have wanted to see established some central or sectional agency which would recognize, and where possible, support little magazines. I was wrong. It must be a person who does it, a person, a fallible person, subject to devotions and accidents. The names of certain authors over a space of years, or over, let us say, the past score years, have been associated with impractical publication.
Carlos Williams has communicated with his readers almost exclusively via the reviews I have mentioned or by others even less public. The last twenty years have seen the principle of the free magazine or the impractical or fugitive magazine definitely established. It has attained its recognized right to exist by reason of work performed. The work of writers who have emerged in or via such magazines outweighs in permanent value the work of the writers who have not emerged in this manner.
The history of contemporary letters has, to a very manifest extent, been written in such magazines. The commercial magazines have been content and are still more than content to take derivative products ten or twenty years after the germ has appeared in the free magazines. There is nothing new about this. Work is acceptable to the public when its underlying ideas have been accepted.
This purely sordid and eminently practical consideration will obviously affect all magazines save those that are either subsidized as chemical research is subsidized or else very cheaply produced as the penniless inventor produces in his barn or his attic. Though the circulation of these magazines tended to be fairly modest, little magazines had been crucial in the promulgation of both modernism and avant-garde or experimental American literature at least since the s. He was a pioneer of comparative literary studies, of cultural studies, and of periodical studies … However one may rank his creative achievement as a poet, one much put him at the very top as an impresario and propagandist for the view of modernism that prevailed in the English-speaking world.
See pages especially.
Intense involvement with little magazines was not merely confined to Pound and Williams. Robert McAlmon had published several books by this time mostly through Contact Editions, a publishing company which he owned and operated , but all had been printed in Europe. Basil Bunting had published a private edition of his collection Redimiculum Matellarum from Milan in , but this collection would have been obscure even to the most assiduous collector of poetry in the United States.
Reznikoff had also self-published three volumes of poetry, three collections of drama, and an additional prose work, each of which had been typeset and printed by hand on a small printing press which he owned. A few surviving letters from the era help to document the contours of interest for various members of the group when it comes to the then-extant little magazines. The American publisher expects to keep up palatial offices on Fifth Ave and to support fat family and forty employees on proceeds of a few books.
European publishers often issue their stuff from one room or from the print shop. Difference of being able to print for 25 cents WHEN a few hundred people are ready, or of waiting till five thousand are ready to pay three dollars. The net result is that America is twenty years behind Europe in every branch of thought save those expressed, often quite able, by our dear friend Henry Ford.
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