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The Bughouse: The Poetry, Politics and Madness of Ezra Pound

Thursday 30 March 2017

1 Hour


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Writer and English lecturer Dr Daniel Swift takes a look at the life of the controversial poet Ezra Pound through the eyes of the famous contemporaries who visited him in a psychiatric hospital.

Pound escaped a possible death sentence for his fascist broadcasts in Italy during the Second World War when he was declared mentally unfit for trial and held for a decade at St Elizabeth’s psychiatric hospital. Swift visited the hospital, spoke to modern neo-fascists in Italy and looked at Pound’s life through the famous poets that visited him in hospital, including T.S. Eliot, Elizabeth Bishop, John Berryman, Robert Lowell, Charles Olson and William Carlos Williams. Swift portrays a fascinating and multifaceted artist and also throws light on the lives of many of the great poets who were drawn to him.

Swift is a senior lecturer in English at New College of the Humanities. His first book, Bomber County, about the lives and work of airborne war poets and of his grandfather – a Lancaster bomber pilot lost in the war, was longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize and the Guardian First Book Award.