Two evenings on Ezra Pound’s CANTOS. This vast, complicated, gorgeous, infuriating, impenetrable epic stands monument-like over the last ninety years of American poetry. “There are the Alps,” wrote Basil Bunting—“you will have to go a long way around to avoid them.” The first session will be an overview: Homer, the ruins of World War I, “Troy a heap of smoldering boundary stones.” Then Provencal troubadors, Sappho, Italian city states, banking practices under the de Medici, collusion of banks & arms dealers, the mysteries at Eleusys. We’ll work our way up to World War II, seeing how Pound’s epic—anti-war poem throughout—and his war-time activities, landed him in the “tiger’s cage” at Pisa; then two decades in a hospital ward for the criminally insane. The second session will be a closer look at the heart of the book, the Cantos Pound wrote at Pisa, living in the cage, expecting any day to be taken to the gallows he looked out on, where fellow prisoners were hung. This was the book that received the grandest award of its day, the Bollingen Prize, forcing poets to confront how it might be that one of their company was incarcerated for treason and insanity. As Robert Duncan said, that was where America was at.