I've been posting some images of poets here lately. I did a google image search on Ezra Pound, but didn't find a copy of the little postage-stamp photo of him which I found in my 2nd-hand copy of the Cantos. I don't know where it came from; it looks like an original (though that's unlikely!). Should have it checked, I guess. It's EP in old age, sitting on a rock, holding a white cane.
A lot of my poetry writing during the 1990s was shaped by the notion that the "long poem" is a distinct genre, one I was very curious about. The variety & expansiveness of the models intrigued me. I was drawn to the special kind of seriousness & authority they (& the lives devoted to them) seemed to emanate (mana, charisma). I liked the way patterns or layers appeared - Pound's "palimpsest" - with various generations (Olson/Zukofsky/David Jones, et al.; Pound/Crane/Joyce, et al.; Whitman... and then back to the old epics).
The long poem seemed like a way to engage with public, social & historical issues, to step beyond the seemingly inherent solitude & solipsism of poetry, to try something with different parts of the composing personality (aside from "music", which has always exerted a strong tug on my negatively-capable dream-life).
I wrote a bunch of them in the 1990s. Most of them are in little chapbooks in the Brown Library.
In RI (still in manuscript)
Forth of July (which includes Stubborn Grew)
These projects focused a lot of my energy. In between I wrote some shorter poems.
We each hear and interpret the poetry before us and around us differently; we live each in our own imaginative conception of the po-sphere. But the literary tradition, like history itself, is both objective and subjective; personal and collective; changeless and changeable. At the high points of my travels through these long poem projects, sometimes I felt like I was finding a theme or an idiom which created a genuine aura of interaction or dialogue with what had been done before. In other words the experiments I was doing seemed meaningful in relation to the previous experiments of those poets who had "broken through" (into literary tradition). This, in part I guess, was what I was working for in the first place.
I think I had several motives for taking this sort of roundabout route or method of composition. For one thing, I wanted to frame a conception of reality in poetry which included history as a form or frame of Time itself. This sounds very vague & portentous, I guess. I was looking at Dante, Milton, & Pound & Olson, as poets who tried to set their own cultures within historical frames, which themselves were framed by philosophical or metaphysical conceptions. & I wanted to do something like that. I wanted to do something holistic. Because I had my own puzzled, inchoate notion of history, which differed from these others'. Where it came from I suppose is in part explained by the travails I went through in the 70s, as described sketchily over at AlephoeBooks.