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Reflections of a working writer and reader

 

 

Modernism I

It was in 1912 that a culturally provincial London began to experience some of the excitement of the Modernist movement, which, on the continent and across the Atlantic, was busy ruffling the feathers of convention. There was an open call for a redefinition of the function of poetry and a shaking-off of the fetters of stereotyped poetic language.
Someone called Ezra Pound, accompanied by other poets, had issued a series of DON’TS as a little manual for those wishing to write the kind of poetry which would be written during the remainder of the 20th century.

1.Use no superfluous word, no adjective which does not reveal something.
2.Don’t use expressions which mix abstraction with the concrete. These dull the image, and arise from the writer’s not realizing that the natural object is always the adequate symbol.
3.Go in fear of abstractions. Do not retell in mediocre verse what has already been done in good prose.
4.Don’t imagine that the art of poetry is any simpler than the art of music, or that you can please the expert before you have spent at least as much effort on the art of verse as the average piano teacher spends on the art of music.

 

RB Kitaj's colour silkscreen print of Ezra Ound

RB Kitaj’s 1974 colour silkscreen print of Ezra Pound

Poetry was to become less personal. Harder, more related to the new definitions of the real world.

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