Ezra Pound and Brian Turner

One question I have been asking myself lately is: what is the importance of using a certain medium when it comes to writing and how does that medium affect the content? And by medium I mean poetry or a short story or music or a novel or a painting. Sometimes I will think of a concept and it seems to naturally fit into a certain medium. For example, I’ll remember the time a kid called me four eyes in the first grade and I think that story could work well as a poem. Or I think of using earthquakes as imagery and all of the sudden a short story will arise around that image. When reading Brian Turner’s poetry I wondered for him how the medium of poetry affected his content, his experience with war. I have read novels about on war, like Tim O’Brian’s The Things They Carried, and seen how the content flourishes in that medium. But Turner seems to use poetry to talk about the same content in a different way. Like in his poem “Howl Wind,” he seems to almost personify the mortar round when he says, “Launched from its tube, the mortar round accelerates to the apogee of its flight… a mortar round howls a night wind over the city, and just where it lands we will see” (Turner, 8). This way of talking about war seems unique to the medium of poetry.

Similarly Pound uses the medium of poetry to talk about history, a subject that seems better fit for non-fiction or even a novel. In regard to The Cantos, Cary Nelson says, “Pound himself called The Cantos ‘a poem containing history,’ and in that deceptively neutral, if potentially grandiose, formulation inheres the poem’s great challenge. For The Cantos is history as Pound saw it; to some degree the poem sequence is also history as he participated in it” (Nelson, 202-203). Pounds use of poetry to discuss history and consequently, Nelson would argue, his political views seems similar to the way Turner uses poetry to talk about war. They are attempting to approach a subject that’s been talked about for years in a new light and poetry allows them to do that. I guess that still leaves the question: how is poetry a helpful medium for talking about politics, war, and history in general? For now, I’m not quite sure.


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