Ezra Pound’s sense of himself as poet-pedagogue—including his insistent desire to reform American higher education—is inseparable from his literary avant-gardism and his commitment to the principle of “discovery” or “newness.” This connection between experimental poetics and pedagogy forms a central part both of Pound’s significance as a writer and of his influence on a later avant-gardist and didact like Charles Olson, and anticipates the complexities of the subsequent relationship between American poetic avant-gardes and the academy. Olson was both a teacher at and rector of Black Mountain College, and in an unlikely conjunction, the forms of his institutional life enter the forms of his avant-garde poetics in major poems like “The Praises.” At the same time, his work embodies a continuing conflict within avant-garde poetics that is central equally to him and Pound: the conflict between the (public) didactic impulse and the (private) impulse toward preservation of coterie.
Original Publication Information
Golding, Alan. "From Pound to Olson: The Avant-Garde Poet as Pedagogue." 2010. Journal of Modern Literature 34(1): 86-106.
Golding, Alan, "From Pound to Olson: The Avant-Garde Poet as Pedagogue" (2010). Faculty Scholarship. 379.