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Restrictions, Ezra, and us

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Hi, everyone,

I came upon part of a July 30, 1920 letter from Ezra Pound to Ford Madox Ford in which Pound states:

"In verse one can take any damn constant one likes, one can alliterate, or assone, or rhyme, or quant, or smack, only one MUST leave the other elements irregular."

Aside from the marvelous verbs assone, quant, and smack, I found the assertion about poetry provocative. It struck me that for us writers of magic realism, the situation is reversed: you can put in the magic, but all the other narrative elements must or should remain regular, realistic, so that the magic element will be stirred into the stew of believability.

What do you think about this? Is the restriction too restrictive? Is Pound's?

Best,
Gatz
#1 - May 17, 2018, 11:27 AM
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There are no writing rules that can't be broken. But breaking them might change the label. So your magical realism becomes fantasy? So? The key is to know the rules so you break them consciously with a purpose that suits your work.

And many poems break Ezra's rule and have both rhyme and one of the other elements, if not more. "Nothing Gold Can Stay" by Robert Frost has a lot of "h" sounds ("Her hardest hue to hold") and rhymes. That's just one of many many examples.
#2 - May 17, 2018, 08:14 PM
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Gatz, you always come up with something interesting!  :thankyou

There are counterexamples, of course, and you can always nibble at the edges, but I think I agree with Pound, and even more with you.
#3 - May 18, 2018, 08:15 AM
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It struck me that for us writers of magic realism, the situation is reversed: you can put in the magic, but all the other narrative elements must or should remain regular, realistic, so that the magic element will be stirred into the stew of believability.
I like this very much Gatz. Well said.

#4 - May 18, 2018, 11:02 AM

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