Tag Archives: capitalism

Politics and Poetry: Ezra Pound

In the last year, I’ve been giving a series of lectures titled Politics and Poetry for The Socialist Party USA. This is an excerpt from the Slam Poetry section of that lecture.


So we’re going to do things a little backwards for this one and look at the poet’s works first before jumping into his biography. This poem penned in 1926 is one Ezra Pound’s most famous poems, in part because of how short it is:

In a Station of the Metro

The apparition of these faces in the crowd:
Petals on a wet, black bough.

Pound was an American poet, born in 1885 and lived through both world wars and well into the cold war and the conflicts that prevailed during the time (and subsequently died in 1972). This next poem of his is titled “The Coming of War: Actaeon” written in 1917.

An image of Lethe,
and the fields
Full of faint light
but golden,
Gray cliffs,
and beneath them
A sea
Harsher than granite,
unstill, never ceasing;

High forms
with the movement of gods,
Perilous aspect;
And one said:
“This is Actæon.”
Actaeon of golden greaves!

Over fair meadows,
Over the cool face of that field,
Unstill, ever moving,
Host of an ancient people,
The silent cortège.

Ezra Pound is credited as being one of the creators of the Modernist poetry movement with his focus on imagery. He translated Chinese and Japanese poetry and in both his translated works and original works he pushed for clarity, precision, and economy of language. He founded not only several American literary magazines, but he is credited for discovering and shaping poets such as T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, Robert Frost, and Ernest Hemingway.

Image of young Ezra Pound
Via Wikimedia.org

Then came Word War I.

Fifty Shades of Conversation

While I have yet to and probably will never see the Fifty Shades of Grey movie nor read the books that inspired it, I am happy it has been written, has become popular, has been made into a movie, and has changed what is and isn’t taboo for the public to have a conversation about.

Literature is reflective of the society it is written in and can often point out uncomfortable truths about the world around us. Is Fifty Shades of Grey literature? I don’t want to get into that debate. I know the grammar is awful and it started off as Twilight fan fiction, but I’m not the ultimate authority on what and what isn’t literature nor do I know what future generations will think is great literature from our time.

“Here we see the inspiration for the greatest novel of the 21st century – the color grey.” – Some guy 1,000 years in the future.

What I do know is that Fifty Shades of Grey has started multiple conversations throughout multiple news sources, on multiple blogs, and even on multiple people’s Facebook pages related to women’s rights, affirmative consent versus coerced consent, BDSM, capitalism, and pornography. If Fifty Shades of Grey wasn’t around, would these conversations be happening in the open? Would our society be looking at these issues?

I, at first, was wary of clicking on articles related to Fifty Shades of Grey because I had no interest in the story, but when I noticed a trend of critical societal examination in the titles, I started to click on articles and I was happily surprised.