As Good As My Word

As promised here is the skinny on the Fuck You Cantos of Ezra Pound

Pound, Ezra. Cantos 110-116. New York: 1967. Limited edition of 300 copies. Heavy white wrapper cover designed by Joe Brainard. 14 leaves (27.9 x 21.6 cm) Gallup A87.

In connection with an interview with Paris Review published in 1962, Pound sent Donald Hall a group of drafts and fragments of poems that had yet to be included in The Cantos. This material found its way into the hands of Sanders (by way of Tom Clark, poetry editor at Paris Review in the mid-1960’s) who pirated the poems in 1967 as a staplebound mimeo. Joe Brainard designed the cover.

Sanders’ meeting with Clark could not have happened at a better time. The piracy of Pound follows the piracy of W.H. Auden’s homoerotic The Platonic Blow in 1965. Fucking with the Modernist icons was hipper than hip. In addition, Pound was big news in the Lower East Side. Pound, long a father figure of the New American Poets, read at the Spoleto Festival in July 1966, which was recorded and issued on LP. At the 1967 Festival, Ginsberg met with Pound and introduced the old poet to the music of the Beatles and Bob Dylan. Pound had been introduced to freak and flower power.

Although versions of these poems had been published in other literary magazines before Sanders’ piracy (such as the Niagara Frontier Review), the Fuck You edition forced New Directions to issue an authorized, official version of the poems. Thus Drafts and Fragments was published in 1969. Evenutally these poems found their way into The Cantos proper in 1970. Canto 116 contains the famous line regarding the masterwork’s failure to cohere. See The Pound Encyclopedia on Drafts and Fragments and for further details.



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