Drafts and fragments

Rachel Blau DuPlessis’s (counter-) Poundian project

Rachel Blau DuPlessis reads at Kelly Writers House, Philadelphia, February 5, 20
Rachel Blau DuPlessis reads at Kelly Writers House, Philadelphia, February 5, 2008.

“To say this project [Drafts] was involved with and against Pound from the start is almost tautological”

“I wanted to make an alternate Cantos, a counter-Cantos.

Drafts explicitly positions itself as not-Cantos”

— Rachel Blau DuPlessis[1]

It is among these three epigraphs on Rachel Blau DuPlessis’s ongoing (since 1986) serial poem Drafts, what she calls a “series of interdependent, related, canto-length poems,”[2] that this essay positions itself. “Drafts and Fragments,” of course, both is and is not Poundian, invoking — to state the obvious — the title of Pound’s late book of Cantos, Drafts and Fragments of Cantos CX–CXVII. But my title also marks DuPlessis’s Drafts and its relation both to Pound and to fragments. DuPlessis has turned and returned to Pound throughout her career as poet and critic, from her 1970 Columbia dissertation “The Endless Poem” (Pound’s own term, from a letter to Joyce, and what DuPlessis in Blue Studios calls a “predictive rubric” for her own poetry [189]), to a long 1981 essay on George Oppen and Pound, to energized discussions of Pound in The Pink Guitar (1990) and Blue Studios (2006), to — throughout — Drafts.[3] In no way do I mean to suggest an ongoing (and especially not filial) debt to Pound on DuPlessis’s part. But I do mean to suggest a serious ongoing engagement and argument, with Pound as a figure, with his work and with particular aspects of modernism for which DuPlessis reads him as standing. “Reads him as standing”: I should stress that I am considering here a poet-critic’s reading of Pound, and that, like many readings of poets by other poets, it is partial, motivated, self-interested, sometimes tendentious. With gritted-teeth neutrality, DuPlessis begins the endnote to “Draft 61: Pyx” thus: “Ezra Pound has been an essential modernist for Anglo-American poetry, and among the practitioners haunted by his work and his career, I would count myself.”[4] That word “haunted” is carefully chosen. Pound is both foundational and to be moved away from, complexly enabling and an object of resistance, and DuPlessis describes Drafts as “a modulation from the Poundean mytho-informational model as the master genre of [the] long poem to a Creeleyesque or, better, Oppenesque notational, social and secular proposal” [“Considering”] — the term “secular” reminding us of the deliberate absence of anything like “Eleusis” in Drafts.[5]

Complexly related to the shift from the “mytho-informational” to a “notational” model is the (gendered) question of scale. The sheer size of the Cantos, along with Zukofsky’s “A” and Olson’s The Maximus Poems the largest in a century of large poems, is everywhere present as a fact “behind” Drafts, which itself consciously engages “the whole area of cultural ambition, to open up into the largest kind of space, the challenge of scope itself.”[6] Especially to the point for DuPlessis is the creation of “large and encompassing structures with a female signature,”[7] following on female modernist models of ongoing, large-scale production: “Both Dorothy Richardson and Gertrude Stein were doing the same thing: writing a gigantic oeuvre, a mound of oeuvre, to separate themselves definitively from all of the tradition of the novel and … of thinking / writing that went before in order to start a new tradition.”[8] In “Draft XXX: Fosse,” which invokes Pound both in its use of Roman numerals, calling up A Draft of XXX Cantos, and in its use of the Poundian word “fosse,” the underworld site in Canto I of empowered (male) prophetic speech, DuPlessis associates herself with a Poundian tradition via citations from or allusions to George Oppen, Louis Zukofsky, Armand Schwerner.[9] But “cunningly” (Odysseus-like) she focuses on their more scaled-down moments: “mimics little words / (flat pebbles), / brings them all to the a / or to the the of ‘be.’”[10] Importantly, in this nuanced negotiation, “little” gets disarticulated from its received association with the feminine by its association with male precursors and contemporaries.[11]

I’ll return later to the question of the “notational,” but initially I want to work with the idea of the fragment. It is connected to three central aspects of DuPlessis’s and Pound’s poetics, three sites at which or ways in which DuPlessis both declares her own poetics and argues with Pound: gender, authority, and reading. There’s a long epistemological, cultural, and literary tradition of coding the fragment female (it’s little, incomplete, etc.), and indeed DuPlessis herself has been a key figure in unpacking that tradition. Her most consistent critique of Pound is a gender critique that foregrounds his promoting “forms of modernist maleness and, more loosely, of poetic genius [that] depend, as subject positions, on proposing and maintaining a dehistoricized, despecified female figure” (Blue Studios, 124). As a central example, DuPlessis analyzes the “work of interpretive erasure” (132) that Pound performs, in “Portrait d’une Femme,” on the feminist writer and activist Florence Farr. Pound’s production of a particular version of modernist maleness “is probably one of his most culturally significant acts within the reception of modernism, as well as its production” (135). DuPlessis has already noted in an earlier essay who is absent from the memory poems of the Pisan Cantos: the “women cultural workers whom Pound knew … The loss, the erasure, the missing.”[12] Pound’s poetics of particularity, that is, fails notably to attend to particular historical women as historical actors (43). While this critique is by now fairly familiar, it is so precisely because of DuPlessis’s work, as well as that of a whole further range of feminist critics, theorists, and writers.

In DuPlessis’s reading — a reading directly relevant to our thinking about the form of Drafts — Pound actually started the Cantos with analogies for the poem’s projected form that were “both more ‘female’ and more popular / populist” (Pink Guitar, 46) than the Cantos later became: the bag of tricks, the rag-bag, the quilt, the circus booth, the spilled catch of fish. As we know, he largely rejected or reworked the ur-Cantos from which these images derive. The goal became mastery, masculine formal authority, so that for Pound, “[major form] began as a ‘rag bag,’ a market mess of spilled fish, but became the form of Analects, of codes, a great man’s law. The Cantos” (9). Fragments and notes became, later in the Cantos, less the basis of form than a measure of the failure of totalization: “Tho’ my errors and wrecks lie about me. / And I am not a demigod, / I cannot make it cohere.”[13] “Notes” are inadequate to capture the invisible wholeness on which Pound continues to insist: “it coheres all right / even if my notes do not cohere” (797). In other words, for DuPlessis, “Pound is saying that the work failed because its strategies were too feminine” (Pink Guitar, 46–47). To reframe the argument in its baldest form: The Cantos started out as a female poem, became or aspired to become a male one, and finally collapsed in its own originary femaleness, reconceived not as formal potential but as detritus.[14]

If Pound helped invent modernism as the art of the fragment, nevertheless in DuPlessis’s reading his “use of fragment and parataxis became a totalitarian and mystical way of carrying out objectivist poetics (totalitarian — meaning totalizing and authoritative …).” As she continues, Pound “used the fragment to headline affirmative ideas he wished to promulgate,” since he “held he had already investigated and was declaring (establishing) permanent results” (Blue Studios, 189). This position is complicated by arguments such as Christine Froula’s discussion of the enhanced authority paradoxically gained by Pound’s occasional admission of error, and by Charles Bernstein’s insights into how the fractured nature of Pound’s formal choices at every point contradicts the aggressively self-confident rhetoric of his public statements on poetics (and everything else).[15] But the Poundian fragment becomes “totalitarian and mystical,” “authoritative,” in DuPlessis’s reading partly because it’s inadequately investigative, used by Pound under the sign of the luminous detail radiating its self-evident truth. In contrast to the tendency, by the mid–late-1930s, for “Pound’s poetry [to] settle into his own repeating codes,” because “certain values or discoveries are treated as settled,”[16] then, her own title, Drafts, signals “investigation without allegiance” (Blue Studios, 250). In a phrase that echoes through Drafts, one “Can choose to investigate” (Drafts 1–38, 188).

The Cantos begin in a tension between form and ambition, DuPlessis suggests: “If the cantos were to remain personal, quirky, situational, Pound would have to resolve the issue of authority and of claim he made immediately in those ‘pre-Cantos’” (Pink Guitar, 47). That is, he would have to find a way to embrace mess and contingency more consistently, as a method, and locate poetic authority there. Increasingly, however, “Pound was perplexed by, and resistant to, historical fluidity and its demands on praxis. He wanted things settled once and for all” (“Objectivist Poetics,” 134). Via DuPlessis’s own use of the fragment, Drafts counters the masculinist, anti-Semitic obsession with cleanliness, antisepsis, and historical fixity that marks Pound’s darkest years: “Drafts is pleased to be an unclean, female-penned poem filled with jots and tittles and thoroughly contaminated by traces of the Hebraic. Drafts is a poem filled with debris, rot, fragment, corners in which collages of trash collect” (Blue Studios, 250) — “the categories filth / refuse, shit, debris,”[17] Pound’s vision of Hell.

These issues of rhetorical authority that I’ve been circling around are inseparable, for DuPlessis, from the longstanding question of the reader’s relationship to the Cantos’ difficulty, a topic she has addressed at various points in her career. Faced with Poundian difficulty, DuPlessis argues, “the reader is slid to scholiast, to epigone, to apologist” (Pink Guitar, 47) — to student, we might say. In this critique, even while Pound thought he was encouraging scholarship, his most influential and original poetic moves were some of his most disempowering: “By radically decontextualizing sources and erasing syntax, [Pound] created a reader who was perpetually evacuated of ways of knowing and, by being perpetually baffled, was made ignorant” (Blue Studios, 249). The more positive perspective here would see Pound as writing a poem against mastery, except that he exempts himself as author: that is, The Cantos are written against everyone’s mastery but his own, though that eventually fails too. For DuPlessis, the relationship to the reader is embroiled in Pound’s authoritarian rhetoric, involving “the ruthless fantasy that interpretation, discussion, partial understanding, patient unfolding are all contemptible” (250). I think Pound allows for the possibility of the earnestly bumbling lay reader more often than DuPlessis suggests, that his view of reading and readers is less monolithic than she suggests (though certainly miscalculated or misguided much of the time) and that it changes in the course of his career.[18] More to the point here, however, is this question: what is one way for the contemporary writer of the complex serial poem to address the issue of difficulty? One answer: the use of endnotes, not as addendum but as an intrinsic rhetorical feature of the poem’s overall architecture.

DuPlessis has acknowledged Drafts as a bricolage of citations from the beginning, and that citationality is reinforced by the poem’s paratextual apparatus, its endnotes: a total of thirty-four single-spaced pages of notes to the ninety-five-poem sequence so far. “Draft 61: Pyx,” one of the most explicitly counter-Poundian drafts, contains this envoi:

Go, little lines,
singing in my sullen ear;
go, half-baked work
noting, and by the notes begin
a process of greeting.
Of gritting.
Without illusion.
Darkly, I listen. (Torques, 22)

While the imagery of noting and notes here refers to the method and music of Drafts, and to DuPlessis’s main technique for giving texture or “grit” to the work, it also has a third reference: that is, one function of the endnotes is to “begin / a process of greeting” the reader.

DuPlessis’s endnotes make explicit what is implicit in the Poundian project. As Jerome McGann writes,

A poem containing history, written in the twentieth century, means not simply “the tale of the tribe,” but the self-conscious presentation of such a tale. It is therefore a poem which will have already theoretically imagined a critical edition of itself. A twentieth-century poem containing history will have to invent and display, somehow, at least the equivalent of footnotes, bibliography, and other scholarly paraphernalia.[19]

This position accords with DuPlessis’s account of the long poem’s features in a 2008 essay: “often such a text reorganizes the library; it is a poem that deliberately, nobly, even maliciously absorbs and transposes Great Works of the past while adding its own reading list, including itself.”[20] In a note, she adds “not only a text that needs a library, indeed, it is a text that is a library — a text itself indebted to, synthetic of, and burrowing through a pile of archival and literary materials, often ones self-declared as vital.” Drafts is acutely aware of, and ambivalent about, the institutional context of its own production and reception:

So then it was DAWN,
Dawn over the PMLA
articles, books, festschriften
shrive me! Father! (Torques, 21)

We know what the “Poundean mytho-informational model” demands of its readers. The “notational” mode of Drafts will not only operate via brief, contingent observations — notations or notes — but will also provide notes to its notes. The porous textual boundary of Drafts bleeds into paratext; radically incomplete, there is always something “next” to it. Endnotes can have a range of rhetorics and purposes, but in Drafts they suggest that authority does not reside solely within the text, that some kind of supplement is both necessary and appropriate. Indeed, a number of these notes foreground their own non-authoritativeness, or the writer’s own learning process: “it is from this article that I first learned about Mass Observation” (Drafts 1–38, 271). A combination of the precise and the casual, the notes resist consistent formatting: they include full citations, partial citations, relative non-citations or bare mentions. At one extreme of punctiliousness we find the following: “The last line is an almost-accurate citation from Bonnie Costello, ‘Planets on Tables: Still Life and War in the Poetry of Wallace Stevens.’ Modernism/Modernity 12.3 (Sept. 2005), 451” (Torques, 137). At the other end of the spectrum: “John Berger, on Picasso,” or “Among other sources, some undergraduate students saying particular things,” or “‘little i’ comes from somewhere I can’t now remember” (Drafts 1–38, 271, 276). We are invited not so much to investigate allusions or something “behind” the text, to pursue sources, as simply to note their existence. The trope of saying a line has a source without knowing what it is points to citationality as a fact of the text rather than actually explaining or locating the citation. On the whole, further investigation will not yield further information or insight. What’s at work, then, is not Poundian allusiveness, with DuPlessis playing Carroll Terrell to her own poem, but an ethics and aesthetics of acknowledgement and dependence on others.[21]


The board of Sulfur in 1988. First row: Jerry Rothenberg; Jed Rasula; Marjorie Perloff. Second row: Clayton Eshleman, editor; Caryl Eshleman; Charles Bernstein; Rachel Blau DuPlessis. Third row: James Clifford; Michael Palmer; Clark Coolidge; Eliot Weinberger; John Yau. Photo by Robert Turney.

Appropriately, if one of the endnotes’ functions is to construct a space of greeting between writer and reader, the notes occasionally offer directions on how to read. The note on “Draft 23: Findings” contains the following explanation of the poem’s procedural construction: “The reader might have already have surmised that each section of this poem both enacts an hour of the day and also refers or alludes to the prior Draft corresponding to its particular number” (Drafts 1–38, 274). The note to Draft 36 gives us that Draft as procedural self-citation: “Draft 36: Cento … is a ‘patchwork’ — a poem in which every line is cited, often from epics. This is a partial cento, built of 99 lines — and that, for its simple allusion to the wrong word, ‘cent,’ or one hundred. Here at least every third line is cited, ‘borrowed’ from my own long poem” (277).

I’ve depended a lot so far on DuPlessis’s own accounts of her project, not inappropriately in the case of this persistently self-descriptive, self-examining, self-questioning poem (“the poem is like a self-gloss mechanism,” as she puts it [“Interview,” 407]). But if, as DuPlessis writes, “I wanted to make an alternate Cantos, a counter-Cantos” (Blue Studios, 250), what does a specific counter-Canto look like? How does it engage with Pound? What I’ll pursue here is less a detailed reading, more what Pound might call a demonstration of method. “Draft 61: Pyx” is one of three poems in the sequence (the others are XXX and 57) in which “Drafts explicitly positions itself as not-Cantos” (278n9). At the same time, it includes numerous citations from the Canti postumi, Massimo Bacigalupo’s edition of outtakes and uncollected drafts of The Cantos.[22] That is, Drafts — or at least this draft — incorporates Pound’s drafts. It’s divided by boldface subheadings, often punning in their fracturing of language and bringing play into sites of Poundian authority and homosociality. The opening section, for instance, features a “lone” female speaker resisting an unspecified “tour [of] his office” led by an “old man” who “tapped his cane, surrounded / by other men / showing the faculty or facility / a faculty for what?” (Torques, 21) — a scene that seems somehow to splice Pound at the Ezuversity or St. Elizabeth’s, with his famous cane and attended by neophytes, with the young DuPlessis’s sense of marginalization in a male-dominated academy. The title of this introductory section? “INTRO DUCE,” but split in half to read as “intro duce” and invoke Mussolini.

The next section, “BEG IN,” returns to notes again, or more specifically to the idea of a “melodic germ,” a very un-Poundian splicing of music and infection just as the self-descriptive “dirty rumbled tune” (25) runs counter to the cleanly precisions of Poundian melopoeia. But DuPlessis acknowledges that “smelling ‘the stench of stale oranges’” (the phrase comes from Canto 14) involves “a touching quotidian / a domestic sensitivity / amid influx of beetles, / broken cloacas, / and meeds of merde” (Torques, 22), a counter-note within the satiric violence and vulgarity of the hell Cantos. DuPlessis uses an aural and typographical tweaking of a Poundian phrase to consider the curve of his career: “Was it hell rot or ‘he’ll rot?’” (22), suggesting the later rot of Pound’s mind and values. And yet in 1945 Pound was still capable of something approaching the fierce incredulity of the hell cantos in a way that speaks to the present: as cited in “Draft 61,” “my mind stretched to the bursting point / with this enormity / with the continuity of the gun-sales” (23).

While DuPlessis and Pound share that quintessential modernist method of making “evidence” and “findings” out of “clutter,” “pilings,” “clippings,” the passage in which DuPlessis lays out this commonality moves in a more Poundian direction in its invocation of the “moon afloat, / silvery eclipses cool down / in luminous cloud-shadow” (23). The seductive rhetoric of Poundian pastoral here invites the question of how to disidentify from the more problematic aspects of his poetics: “How to resist a world-system?” (23). The counter-challenge is “How to get a handle on it / How to keep the rage complex” (23, 25) — something that, one would have to say, Pound tended not to do in, for instance, the obsession with credit and conspiracy reflected in this outtake from the Cantos that DuPlessis quotes: “ledt hoo vill rhun de harmies, / if I can gontroll th gredit” (25). Again, however, it’s a dialectical Pound we have here, the phonetic spelling of the conspiracy theorist next to the vivid imagery of the World War I about which Pound continued to write for years: “greasy flame of dead gas flare // a thick air / and a stifled silence” (25).

DuPlessis talks back to Pound most explicitly as “the extra ‘r’” in his misspelled “Mt. Arrarat” (27). This Jewish woman imagines herself Othered as victims of the Holocaust were, through a process in which Pound actively participated. Thus, like all admirers of Pound, she has had to come to terms with his Fascist politics, and particularly his lack of political self-doubt. As her speaker asks incredulously, “and never halting? never faltering?” (28) This speaker imagines herself as she might be perceived from a hypothetical Poundian perspective, “you stupid nothing r,” “the little tiny Jew / poking a nose somewhere / to find something” (27). The Jew as nosey plague-carrying rodent: “contaminated by traces of the Hebraic” indeed. During World War II Pound wrote, in another outtake cited in Draft 61, “How is it, I said: that the ghosts are so gathered?” These ghosts are simultaneously the impetuous, impotent dead of Canto I, cited a few lines later, the characters populating Pound’s memory, and the dead of the Holocaust: Jerome Rothenberg’s dybukkim, soundless voices, “these Shadows [who] make antiphonal claims // as words that fail” (29) — for in Drafts, to write, to enter language, is to fail.[23] “The page [is] a cavernous echo chamber / of that” (30), capturing the shadows and silence of the dead in an echo chamber antiphonal to that echo chamber of the self from which Pound delivered his Rome broadcasts.

What remains powerful in Pound for DuPlessis? What she calls the “grief and intransigence” (Pink Guitar, 42) of the Pisan Cantos, for one thing. She observes that “over the course of writing a [multigeneric] long poem, one genre can grow in importance (… elegy for Pound in the Pisan Cantos)” (“Considering”), and indeed elegy — the poetics of memory and loss — is one crucial mode in Drafts. For another, “his political rage and despair, and his hyperstimulation, for he is literally overwhelmed, drowned in data, in the storm of history, in the floods of mud, water, in the dangerous pools of the early cantos” (Blue Studios, 247), Malatesta up to his neck in the swamp of Canto IX. For DuPlessis, this is one defining condition of her poetry: a response to “scale far beyond any humanist tempering … the universe, the earth, our history and politics, the sense of the past, and the more febrile sense of the future: in short, plethora, hyper-stimulation, an overwhelmedness to which one responds” (“Considering”), such that “the long poem is a work of mastery in which you submit to your own powerlessness” (Blue Studios, 240). Another explicit not-Canto, “Draft XXX: Fosse,” refers, in one of its many moments of self-description, to “a book of the unraveling voice / incapable and swamped / in the same time as the self” (Drafts 1–38, 188), and for DuPlessis it is that Pound who can still compel: the unraveling voice, incapable, swamped in time, “saturation / beyond catalogue” (20).

Author’s note: Thanks to Harry Gilonis, Tony Lopez, and David Moody for helpful questions and conversation.



1. Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Blue Studios: Poetry and Its Cultural Work (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2006), 246, 250, 278n9.

2. Ibid., 211.

3. Regarding “the endless poem,” DuPlessis’s use of the term “endless” in “Draft 76: Work Table with Scale Models” (Torques, Drafts 58–76 [Cambridge: Salt, 2007]) reminds us that her citational methods are far more openly and self-reflexively constructivist than Pound’s: appropriating the mail artist Ray Johnson on appropriation, she writes, “‘My works get made and then chopped up, and then reglued and remade, and then chopped up again, the whole thing is really endless’” (136) — reasserting, at a point of temporary closure, the end of the book, the open-ended nature of the work.

4. DuPlessis, Torques, 138.

5. See also DuPlessis’s remark that “Drafts was involved with Pound from its inception, but as a critical resistance to the impact of the work” (Blue Studios, 250). On one aspect of this resistance, “opposition to the dominance of the Pound-styled editor” (60) and his investment in (historical) cleansing and efficiency, see Joshua Schuster, “Jewish Counterfactualism in Recent American Poetry,” Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies 27, no. 3 (2009): 58–60. For a discussion of non-Poundian models of serial writing important to DuPlessis — those of Robert Duncan, George Oppen, Beverley Dahlen, and H. D., along with Kurt Schwitters’s collage practice — see Lynn Keller, Forms of Expansion: Recent Long Poems by Women (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997), 242–51. As Keller rightly points out, one key aspect of seriality as a compositional method for DuPlessis is that “its aspirations are more modest, more investigative, than the grandly didactic cultural projects of modernist epic” (242) — even as a moment like the citation of Duncan’s “Let this time have its canto” (Torques, 118) allows for a metonymic chain from Pound to Duncan to DuPlessis.

6. Jeanne Heuving, “An Interview with Rachel Blau DuPlessis,” Contemporary Literature 45, no. 3 (Fall 2004): 403.

7. Ibid., 404, my emphasis.

8. Ibid.

9. If the Cantos try to answer their opening “trenchant call across the fosse / to activate / something / is it prophecy? / is it instruction? / is it mourning?” Drafts, itself responding to that trenchancy, will “step across” the fosse in far more contingent fashion, “not as demanded in foundational commandment / … / but just in the course of things / casting oneself to the same winds.” Appropriately for a long poem that is always beginning again, this echo of epic’s inaugurating gesture appears on page 192 of the work’s first volume. (And hearing a pun on “trench,” with its associations of trench warfare, is perhaps not too far-fetched.) The “sludge-filled ditch / where futurists once lay” is indeed “modified from Filippo Marinetti, ‘Futurist Manifesto’” (Torques, 40, 138) in “Draft 64: Forward Slash,” but it is in apposition with the preceding (and opening) quatrain of the poem: “The poem is the fosse / in which to cower / hunching down / by warehouses of power” (40).

10. DuPlessis, Drafts 1–38, Toll (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2001), 188.

11. Readers of Oppen and Zukofsky will recognize the allusions to Oppen’s celebration of “the small nouns” in “Praise” (New Collected Poems, 99) and “the little words that I like so much” (“Interview,” 162), to his sense that “that’s where the mysteries are, in the little words. ‘The’ and ‘and’ are the greatest mysteries of all” (“Poetry and Politics,” 38). Both Oppen and DuPlessis allude to Zukofsky’s statement that “a case can be made out for the poet giving some of his life to the use of the words the and a: both of which are weighted with as much epos and historical destiny as one man can perhaps resolve” (Prepositions +, 10). See George Oppen, New Collected Poems, edited by Michael Davidson (New York: New Directions, 2002), 99; Oppen, interview by L. S. Dembo, Contemporary Literature 10, no. 2 (Spring 1969): 159–77; “Poetry and Politics: A Conversation with George and Mary Oppen,” by Burton Hatlen and Tom Mandel, in George Oppen: Man and Poet, edited by Burton Hatlen (Orono, ME: National Poetry Foundation, 1981), 23–50; and Louis Zukofsky, Prepositions +: The Collected Critical Essays (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 2000).

12. DuPlessis, The Pink Guitar: Writing as Feminist Practice (1990; repr., Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2006), 42.

13. Ezra Pound, The Cantos (London: Faber & Faber, 1975), 796.

14. Again without arguing for direct filiation, it seems fair to claim that Drafts is immanent in one aspect of the work of male modernist writers, including Pound, who were “drawn to the burble, the midden, sheer rhythm” (Pink Guitar, 62) — to écriture feminine, a revolutionary poetics that, as DuPlessis points out, did not extend to a rethinking of gender roles.

15. See Christine Froula, To Write Paradise: Style and Error in Pound’s Cantos (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985), and Charles Bernstein, A Poetics (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992), 121–27. In raising a question about the authoritative / authoritarian in Pound, Bernstein unintentionally offers what can serve as a precise overview of the method of Drafts:

Is cultural megalomania a symptom of being overwhelmed by the incommensurable and intractable autonomy of fragments, that will not submit to a unitary measure, hierarchically predetermined, but which insist on making their own time and space, their own poem: never yielding to the totalizing of the autocratic arbitration of their place but allowing their own whole to come into being, not Coherence on the Pound standard, but a coherence of the displaced — disseminated and desecrated — making a home where it is to be found, where it occurs? (122)

Drafts is more self-conflicted (though not consistently so) than DuPlessis’s prose commentaries in its treatment of Pound.

16. DuPlessis, “Objectivist Poetics and Political Vision: A Study of Oppen and Pound,” in George Oppen: Man and Poet, edited by Burton Hatlen (Orono, ME: National Poetry Foundation, 1981), 130.

17. DuPlessis, Drafts 39–57, Pledge, with Draft, Unnumbered: Précis (Cambridge: Salt, 2004), 153.

18. I offer a more developed discussion of Pound’s relationship to questions of knowledge, difficulty, readership, and reading in “From Pound to Olson: The Avant-Gardist as Pedagogue,” Journal of Modern Literature 34, no. 1 (Fall 2010): 86–106.

19. Jerome McGann, The Textual Condition (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991), 129.

20. DuPlessis, “Considering the Long Poem: Genre Problems,” Readings: Responses and Reactions to Poetries 4 (October 2009).

21. I am referring to Carroll F. Terrell, A Companion to the Cantos of Ezra Pound, 2 vols. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980, 1984), still the definitive reference text for Pound’s sources in the Cantos.

22. Ezra Pound, Canti postumi, ed. Massimo Bacigalupo (Milan: Mondadori, 2002).

23. For the reference to dybukkim, see Rothenberg’s poem “Dibbukim (Dibbiks),” in Khurbn and Other Poems (New York: New Directions, 1989), 13–14.