Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Adult in the Race

It comes as no surprise to those who are regular readers of this blog when I say that I am 100% biased about former Congressman Richard Stallings. As the "Keeper of the Papers," as I considered myself for the 4 years that I processed and cataloged his congressional papers at Idaho State University, I came to know Stallings' career inside and out. I came to respect his congressional service as much as I respected him as a professor and a man. He is a devoted husband, father and grandfather. He's a man who has dedicated much of his adult life to public service, rather that be in public office or in the non-profit world. And, something I especially admire about him, he's an historian. I was thrilled when he jumped into the 2nd congressional district race and have been privileged to attend a few campaign events with him recently. This new ad is a great summation of why the second congressional district needs Richard Stallings again. He is, without question, the adult in the race.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

New Music Tuesday

Though I am a week behind in mentioning it, Sarah McLachlan has a new album out, Shine On, and it is chalk full of goodness. "Brink of Destruction" is lyrically as strong as "Building a Mystery" or any of her mid-90s stuff.

Monday, May 12, 2014

2014 Reading List

While I am not one for resolutions, I had intended to do more of two things in 2014: Read and write. Clearly from my nearly five month absence from this space, writing has been hard to dedicate myself to. Reading, on the other hand, has been something I have done with total abandon in recent months.

I tend to read far more non-fiction than fiction, but lately I've given myself the latitude to read broadly and without guilt. We truly should read what we want to read rather than what we are told to, as the late Doris Lessing wrote. What I've wanted to read has been an interesting mix of mysteries, politics and everything I can get my hands on about Ezra Pound. While his poetry will forever confound, his life is beginning to take shape in my mind.

By no means a way of explaining my absence, I offer my 2014 reading list. I've grouped together the titles I've already finished, those I am currently absorbing and those I hope to get to before the year is out. Perhaps I'll add to the latter list as the year proceeds.

Recent Reads
  • E.E. Cummings: A Life by Susan Cheever (2014)
  • The Caged Panther: Ezra Pound at St. Elizabeths by Harry Meacham (1967)
  • Donna Leon's Uniform Justice (2003), Doctored Evidence (2004), Blood from a Stone (2005), Through a Glass, Darkly (2006) and Suffer the Little Children (2007).
  • Henning Mankell's Faceless Killers (1997), The Dogs of Riga (2001) and The White Lioness (1998).
  • Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin (1987)
  • End of Days: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy by James L. Swanson (2013)
  • The Intercept (2013) and The Execution (2014) by Dick Wolf
  • Ezra Pound's Fascist Propaganda, 1935-1945 by Matthew Feldman (2013)
  • Ezra Pound and His World by Peter Ackroyd (1980)
Currently Reading
  • Elizabeth Warren's A Fighting Chance (2014)
  • Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution by Justice John Paul Stevens (2014)
  • Modernism on File: Writers, Artists, and the FBI 1920-1950 by Claire A. Culleton and Karen Leick (2008)
  • Ezra and Dorothy Pound: Letters in Captivity, 1945-1946 edited by Omar Pound and Robert Spoo (1999)
In the Queue
  • The Letters of Robert Frost, Volume 1: 1886-1920 (2014)
  • Unlucky 13 by James Patterson (2014)
  • Jim Abbott's Imperfect (2013)
  • The Archivist's Story by Travis Holland (2008)
  • Herman Hesse's The Glass Bead Game (2002 edition)
  • Hide and Seek by Ian Rankin (1991)
  • The Girl of His Dreams by Donna Leon (2008)
  • The Man Who Smiled by Henning Mankell (2005)
  • Ezra Pound, Father and Teacher: Discretions by Mary de Rachewiltz
  • John Quincy Adams: American Visionary by Fred Kaplan (2014)
The themes in my reading point to my interests as well as projects I toy with from time to time. In a life long past, the early years of this now nearly ten-year-old blog, I would have written extensively about the ideas that I find myself laboring over in my mind on a daily basis. This blog will never return to that type of presence. I, however, was taught to be and always be a curious reader.

Monday, May 5, 2014

TDIH: Ezra Pound Detained in Italy

On this day in 1945, American poet Ezra Pound was officially detained and interrogated in Genoa, Italy on the charge of treason. It was the beginning of what would become a 13-year legal limbo for Pound.

From Genoa, Pound, whose treasonous action was his broadcasts on Radio Rome, would be transferred to the United States Army Disciplinary Training Center north of Pisa where he was placed in a steel cage and left to slowly lose what was left of his mind.

An excerpt from Susan Cheever's new biography of e.e. cummings:
"In Pisa, a temporary U.S. commander had him detained in a six-by-six foot steel cage lit up at night by floodlights. With no exercise, eyes inflamed by dust, no bed, no belt or shoelaces and no communication with other human beings, Pound slowly went mad. Whatever vestiges of his former brilliance remained him were wiped out by the three weeks he spent like a caged animal in American custody. He had not yet been tried. Confinement in a floodlit cage is torture, against the law, cruelty beyond imagining. Pound was sixty years old. Later, he recorded some of what happened in the Pisan Cantos, Canto 80, when Odysseys drowns 'when the raft broke and the waters went over me.' In July he was finally diagnosed with a mental breakdown and transferred to a tent and given reading material." (E.E. Cummings: A Life, 136)
The poet spent three weeks in what he would later refer to as "the gorilla cage." Exposed to the elements, isolated from any interaction with other prisoners or guards and deprived of the methods of communication that he had spent his entire life utilizing, Pound was allowed a Chinese dictionary, a book of Confucius and a standard-issue Bible. In his moments of coherence, he translated Confucius and began writing what would be published as the Pisan Cantos.

Pound's breakdown would signal the end of any possibility of him participating in his own defense. His crime would therefore never be debated in court, his case never actually tried. Once the seriousness of his mental collapse was understood, he was sent back to the United States where he would spend twelve years and two months incarcerated at St. Elizabeths Hospital.

His total detention by the United States government, his own government, lasted thirteen years and thirteen days.