28th Ezra Pound International Conference
Universidad de Salamanca
25-29 June 2019
Ezra Pound and the Spanish World
“¿Cantan aún los gallos del Cid al amanecer en Medinaceli?”
(“Do the roosters still crow at dawn in Medinaceli?”)
The 28th Ezra Pound International Conference takes place from Tuesday, 25 June to Saturday, 29 June 2019 at the University of Salamanca, Spain. Established in 1218, Europe’s fourth oldest university is located in heart of Western Spain. This year’s EPIC will be followed by an optional post-conference overnight excursion to Burgos to see its stunning cathedral, the famous chests of sand from El Cid, and several monasteries. The second day will include a stop in Medinaceli to see the first plaque in Europe dedicated to Ezra Pound, followed by a third day in Madrid for tours of Lope de Vega’s house and the Prado.
Spain was a first in many ways in Pound’s life. Having learned Spanish in college, he initially came here in 1906 to research his intended thesis on Spanish playwright Lope de Vega, about whom Pound wrote in The Spirit of Romance, “He is not a man, he is a literature.” He later invoked Spanish culture often in The Cantos, spanning its history from El cantar de mio Cid to Juan Ramón Jiménez. For Pound, El Cid was the epics of epics, because unlike other medieval epics it is composed in a realistic style based on historical fact. Pound’s enthusiasm for El Cid took him in 1906 to Burgos, whose cathedral he rated above Notre Dame. From there he followed El Cid’s trail across Soria to the medieval town of Medinaceli (“celestial city,” in Arabic) on the border of Christian and Moorish Spain, where the medieval hero had sought refuge in exile. In The Cantos, Pound gives his epic a Spanish frame by using Spanish in the titles of three of its nine sections: The Jefferson Nuevo Mundo Cantos (31-41), Rock Drill de los Cantares (85-95), and Thrones de los Cantares (96-109).
In fact, Spain was the first country to honor Pound with a monument when, on 15 May 1973 in Medinaceli, with the seventy-eight-year-old Olga Rudge present as a special guest, a stone plaque was placed beneath an ancient tree, recalling in bronze letters Pound’s appreciation for what he considered the most beautiful line of Spanish poetry: “aún cantan los gallos al amanecer en Medinaceli.” As significant as the impact of Spanish culture was on Pound, so is his own legacy in Spain, where he exerted a major influence on the Poetas Novisimos (‘The Newest Ones’), a group of experimental poets in the 1970s also known as the Venetians, many of whom had sought Pound in Venice to pay homage, including José María Álvarez, Félix de Asúa, Perrre Gimferrer, Vicente Molina Foix, Leopoldo María Panero, Jaime Siles, and Antonio Colinas.