ezra pound in prison

71804bd6-60bb-11e7-b6f8-8145f3f5d4314Eric Ormsby at the TLS:

Ezra Pound was not the first poet to spend years confined to a mental hospital nor will he probably be the last, but he was surely the only one to have turned his legally enforced confinement into a long-running literary soirée, his very own “Ezuversity”. As Daniel Swift puts it in The Bughouse, his lively and searching account of Pound’s years at St Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, DC, from 1946 to 1958, it was “the world’s least orthodox literary salon: convened by a fascist, held in a lunatic asylum”. Though there has been much hand-wringing over the years by Pound’s acolytes about the incarceration, it proved to be in many ways a perfect environment for the garrulous poet. His visitors ranged from illustrious old friends, such as T. S. Eliot, Marianne Moore and William Carlos Williams, to eager younger poets, such as Robert Lowell and Allen Ginsberg, to less savoury members of the real lunatic fringe, among them the violent white sup­rem­acist John Kasper, whose neo-Nazi views “Uncle Ez” warmly supported and encouraged. To the end Pound remained an anti-Semite, but now he added black Americans and civil rights protesters to his roster of well-nurtured hatreds. Best of all for Pound, however, was the opportunity to lecture and harangue his seemingly endless procession of admirers, whether on his crack-brained economic and political theories or on matters literary and aesthetic. Nor did his apparent derangement mitigate his vanity. Elizabeth Bishop noted that when Pound asked her to bring him a journal in Bengali, a language he did not know, it was principally to check as to whether his name was mentioned there (since he couldn’t read Bengali it is not clear how he managed this).

more here.