Tag Archives: WWII

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.

WWII: Not an Original Setting Anymore

I’m part of a book club at work. We enjoy getting together and discussing a book every two weeks over lunch. But, for some reason, more than half the books we read are set in WWII. All of the villains are, generally, Nazis.

This is the current book I’m working on for book club. It’s not bad, but I’m tired of WWII. Maybe if I hadn’t of read 6 other WWII related books for book club before, I’d be more into this one.

I was wondering if this was just related to the tastes of my book club – maybe they all are WWII enthusiasts or like, really hate Nazis.

But then I realized, maybe, just maybe, the reason we read so many WWII fiction books is because there are so damn many of them on the market.

When I do a search in Amazon, for example, for WWII under books, I get 20,203 results. If I narrow it down to non-history books, I still get about 5,000 books from literature, fantasy, mystery, thriller, suspense, romance, teen, etc.

I hate to say it, but guys, WWII is an unoriginal theme. Don’t make it your setting. Don’t make your bad-guys stereotypical Nazis. It’s been done. It’s been done so many times. How many times? 20,203 overall, or, if you just want to go into the fiction realm, at least over 5,000 recently.

Author Spotlight: Melanie Dobson

meldobson

Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of thirteen historical romance, suspense, and contemporary novels. Two of her novels won Carol Awards in 2011, and Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana won Best Novel of Indiana in 2010. The former corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family, Melanie now lives with her husband, Jon, and two daughters near Portland, Oregon.

Chateau of Secrets - COVER
Buy the book here:
Amazon
IndieBound

The Poetics Project: Describe your novel in ten words or less.

Melanie Dobson: A noblewoman hides French resistance while Germans occupy her home.

TPP: What inspired you to write Chateau of Secrets?

MD: The courageous story of a French noblewoman by the name of Genevieve de Saint Pern Menke inspired me to write this novel. Her granddaughter shared Genevieve’s stories of courage and faith with me, and I was captivated by her bravery in hiding the French resistance in tunnels under her family’s château while the Nazi Germans occupied her home. Genevieve left a beautiful legacy, and I hope readers are inspired by her story as well.

TPP: What was the most difficult part of writing a historical novel?

MD: I often say the reason that I write historical fiction is because I love to learn! One of the most difficult parts for me is to stop researching and start the actual writing. Also, as I write, I struggle to find the balance between adding believable details to a story and overwhelming readers with too much information. I’ve learned that compelling historical fiction should be rooted in good research, and then if all goes well, the story will flow naturally from the facts.

TPP: How did you go about writing the intertwining story lines? Was it difficult to write one in present day and one in the past?

MD: It was incredibly challenging for me until I began to write the present day sections in first person. That change seemed to breath life into Chloe Sauver’s perspective. Then I began weaving together Chloe’s struggle with fear and doubt and her grandmother’s story of courage and faith. After I finished my first draft, I rewrote and rewrote until the timing seemed right.

TPP: What do you want readers to take away from your novel?

MD: Château of Secrets is about seemingly ordinary people who stood against evil, often working in secret as they fought against the Nazis and protected innocent people marked for death. As I wrote this story, I was reminded that we all have many opportunities today to stand against evil and protect those who are suffering. We may not be risking our life, but it is always extraordinary to sacrifice finances, time, and even our pride to help someone in need.

TPP: What advice can you give aspiring authors? What advice do you wish you would have been given?

MD: Don’t sweat the first draft! I think it’s important for aspiring authors to get their story on paper. Once the story is down, they can begin the process of editing their plot and polishing their words. When I first started writing, I didn’t want anything bad to happen to my characters, and it took me a long time to realize that conflict is what makes a compelling story. Now all sorts of bad things happen to my good characters… But they always triumph in the end!

TPP: Name 2-3 songs that would be on a soundtrack to your novel?

MD: “Mighty to Save” by Seventh Day Slumber, “Blessings” by Laura Story,and I think Chloe would be personally motivated by the lyrics from Frozen’s “Let It Go”. I checked with Genevieve Menke’s daughter-in-law, and she thinks that would have made Genevieve smile.
 
To learn more about Melanie Dobson, visit her website.