cover image Poundemonium


Julian Rios. Dalkey Archive Press, $13.5 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-56478-138-3

In his more lucid moments, Ezra Pound would have appreciated this combination of puzzle and pastiche. Rios's second part in the projected quintet that started with the massive Larva: Midsummer Night's Babel, owes its style to all of the early Modernists, especially Joyce. But the content is a treasure hunt of Poundiana. The plot follows three (or more) Spaniards named Babelle, Milalias and X. Reis (and perhaps Rimbaudalaire and Reynaldo) as they make a memorial pilgrimage to London after hearing of Pound's death in 1972. That is, at least, the theory. In fact, the main narrative combines puns and portmanteau words to create a running babble of Pound-itry. This requires some concentration and even more when you add in the explanatory notes on each facing page--which lead, in certain cases, to a series of ""Parting Shots"" at the end of the book and then to maps of London as well. Pound, who famously dismissed the Imagism imported by Amy Lowell to the U.S. as ""Amy-gisme,"" is repaid by Rios, who portrays the poet as ""holding forth with his pounderings and impounderables and poundemonium."" The title character from Pound's Hugh Selwyn Mauberley appears in Poundemonium as a character accompanied by Valery Larbaud's not dissimilar creation, A.O. Barnabooth. References to Pound's titles are re-combined, as in ""`Fernando Pessoa: The Four Personae,' said the Newspaper ad. And how many for you Ezra Personae. Personne?"" ""Li Po"", Pound's pronouncement to MAKE IT NEW, Eliot's dedication to Il Miglior Fabbro are all here. So are Pound's Stations of the Cross (London edition), through Kensington and Deptford. But most of all, what Rios creates is a Baedeker of modernism. (Jan.)