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PN Review 276
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This item is taken from PN Review 113, Volume 23 Number 3, January - February 1997.

Letters from William Cookson, William I. Elliott, Marsha Pomerantz

Frederic Raphael berates me at length (PNR 112) but my reasons for entering this minefield were twofold: first, to point out that the substantial number of statements, both public and private, Pound made against anti-Semitism must be given due weight (to give another example, 'Inasmuch as the Jew has conducted no holy war for nearly two millennia, he is preferable to the Christian and the Mohammedon' (Selected Prose), and secondly, that anti-Semitism is in no way central to the inclusive and affirmative humanity of Pound's wonderful poetry, which, in the end, is all that matters.

This is not to deny the anti-Semitism of some passages in Pound's vast oeuvre, nor can the sincerity of his regret be doubted. He told Allen Ginsberg that he regarded it as his 'worst mistake', or to take another less well-known statement, which Robert Lowell records, 'That nonsense about the Jews, Olga knew it was shit, yet she still loved me.'

Finally, Raphael comments sarcastically on Pound's description of his anti-Semitism to Ginsberg as a 'suburban prejudice'. Donald Davie, after visiting Wyncote, the Philadelphia suburb where the poet grew up, showed that Pound was merely using le mot juste:

That epithet, 'suburban', has been thought insufficiently breast beating; but the slides we were shown, of newspaper clippings from Wyncote in the 1890s, show that as usual Pound was merely being exact - the exclusion of 'Israelites' from social institutions and occasions was at that time in that place quite explicit and unabashed. Of course this is not offered as any sort of excuse. But it does show that Pound's anti-Semitism wasn't an infection that he picked up in Europe, but something he brought with him from America - not from the Midwest either, but from the Eastern seaboard. (Sons of Ezra, page 29).

Editor, Agenda,

Making Amends

In your kind remarks (PNR 112) about the Kanto Poetry Centre Conference which convened in Hayama, Japan, 29-31 August, you, Michael Schmidt, failed to note that you were the featured guest, in which capacity you (a) gave a reading of your poems, (b) delivered your lecture on contemporary British poetry, and (c) conducted a three-session seminar on British poetry of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. Let this letter make amends for your understandable silence.

Director, Kanto Poetry Centre


How subtle of the British, I thought, to incorporate an error of agreement and the wrong homonym in a paragraph about editing. I refer to 'give' and 'tale' in Michael Heller's interview with Harvey Shapiro (PNR 110, page 55). Then I found other errors, less aptly placed: 'cthonic' and 'superceded' on page 31, 'Philipino' on page 21 and, most blatant, 'Prenicious' in a heading on page 65. The pronoun 'I' appears in lower case and 'this' goes missing from Peter Forbes' letter ('(which in this case I didn't write…)'); Lion Roche 'couches' rather than crouches in John Needham's piece on Hong Kong (page 20). To cite a few.

As an editor I've certainly had occasion to look for some printer's devil to blame. However, Satan's little helpers seem to have the run of your computers. I enjoy reading PNR and find it full of substance but wonder how the reader is to trust your printing of poems, in which the typos are sometimes harder to detect than they are in prose.


This item is taken from PN Review 113, Volume 23 Number 3, January - February 1997.

Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this item to
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