Pier Paolo Pasolini Talks and Reads Poetry with Ezra Pound (1967)

Here’s a col­li­sion of cul­tur­al fig­ures you don’t see every day: Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom direc­tor Pier Pao­lo Pasoli­ni sit­ting down with mod­ernist poet Ezra Pound. Though only eight min­utes in length and per­haps not sub­ti­tled with ide­al flu­en­cy, this clip nonethe­less hints at the kind of con­ver­sa­tion, or con­ver­sa­tions, you’d like to have been in the room for. Here Pound and Pasoli­ni dis­cuss the lin­guis­ti­cal­ly exper­i­men­tal Ital­ian lit­er­ary move­ment “neoa­van­guardia,” which count­ed among its adher­ents Umber­to Eco, Edoar­do San­guineti, and Amelia Rossel­li. Pasoli­ni, not just a film­mak­er but a poet and all-around man of let­ters him­self, would nat­u­ral­ly know to bring this sub­ject up, since the group famous­ly looked to Anglo­phone mod­ernists like Pound him­self (as well as T.S. Eliot) for their inspi­ra­tion.

Pound came to Italy in 1924, by which point he already held expa­tri­ate sta­tus. Born in 1885 in what we now know as Ida­ho, he moved to Lon­don ear­ly in the 20th cen­tu­ry. Hor­ri­fied and dev­as­tat­ed by the First World War, he moved to Paris in 1921 before land­ing in the small Ital­ian town of Rapal­lo three years lat­er. He there pro­ceed­ed to tar­nish his rep­u­ta­tion by endors­ing the fas­cism of Mus­soli­ni and even Hitler. Pasoli­ni shows inter­est not in polit­i­cal ques­tions, but artis­tic ones: about the avant-garde, about Pound’s beloved 14th- and 15th-cen­tu­ry painters, and about his Pisan Can­tos. Pasoli­ni actu­al­ly dons his glass­es and per­forms a read­ing from that work as Pound gazes on. We then see the 82-year-old poet tak­ing his leave, lean­ing on his cane, mov­ing halt­ing­ly through the rus­tic Ital­ian coun­try­side that spreads out behind him.

via Bib­liok­lept

Relat­ed con­tent:

Ezra Pound’s Fiery 1939 Read­ing of His Ear­ly Poem, ‘Ses­ti­na: Altaforte’ 

Rare Ezra Pound Record­ings Now Online

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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