Writing poetry isn’t the same thing as studying it, and while, as I said, there are a few students in both classes, and so some cross-over, it’s a different kind of class when every week you’re reading Ezra Pound’s The Cantos together. This is my baseline text – I’ve taken the idea of reading one big book together over a semester from the Lacan Salon, where we take months to read one of the Seminars. In this poetry class, it’s been pretty amazing to be together in a room, looking at Pound’s economics (some good ideas, some kind of wacky), his politics (the disaster of his anti-Semitism), the historical collages of the Italian Renaissance, American revolutionary history, Chinese poetry, and just whatever Pound was up to in Gibraltar in 1908, and not least, the incredible formal torqueing of language, space, vernacular, and parataxis that has been so influential on the past century of modernist and postmodern poetry. Every class we begin with a couple students facilitating a discussion of the cantos we’ve read that week – I call this a “wiki-Pound” but there’s also a great two-volume set of annotations by the incomparable scholar Carroll F. Terrell, so we can follow up many of the references.
I’ve combined reading Pound with more contemporary poetry (I wrote a book on the Kootenay School of Writing, so you can guess we look at the KSW), trying, and I hope succeeding, in showing students how poetry is a vital part of everyday life, here, in Vancouver, but also in the world. Like I said, it’s kind of cool.
Interested in hearing poetry at SFU? Canada's former poet laureate, Fred Wah, reads today (October 27) at Special Collections on the 7th floor of the Bennett library at 12:30. And the "She Writes" celebration of Women's Voices takes place next Thursday, November 3, 7 p.m., in room 3310 at the Surrey campus: tickets and more information here. Finally, the Ellen and Warren Tallman Writer-in-Residence is sponsoring New Orleans-based poet Rodrigo Toscano, next Friday, November 4, at Pulpfiction Books on Main street in Vancouver, at 7 p.m.