BIOGRAPHY: Harriet Monroe


So much of what is known about Pound and his ideas is made available in his letters to Harriet Monroe. Monroe was the editor for Poetry Magazine. Whether it was to voice his opinion about who should win a particular poetry contest or explain one of his new theories, Pound was constantly writing Monroe. In one such instance, he was trying to concince her that Poetry Magazine's first ever Guarantor's Prize should be awarded to Yeats. "About the $250 prize," Pound wrote, "It must be offered to Yeats. If he is so dam'd opulent as not to need it, he will probably return it. As for it's not being adventerous to offer it to him, I don't see that it is our job to be adventerous in this case but to be just. He has fought a long fight and had damn little reward (in the way of cash and comfort)" (Longenbach 111). The exchanges between Pound and Monroe were often in this manner and the two were very much at odds during much of their relationship. The November 1914 issue of Poetry Magazine was devoted entirely to war poetry which upset Pound. War poetry perturbed him because most of the people writing and submitting the work had nothing to do with the war. For the following issue an annonymous donor sponsored a $100 prize for the best war poem. Pound was relieved to find out that Monroe herself had nothing to do with sponsoring the contest and creating what he called "the war poem scandal." He wrote to Monroe stating: "After trying for two years to make the point that poetry is an art, it is rather disheartening to have the magazine burst out with a high school folly, a prize for a poem 'In Occasion.' GOGDD DAMMMMM! Poet laureates making birthday odes! Maeterlinck doing columns in the Daily Mail. Even he has the grace to say that those who aren't carrying rifles ought to keep quite" (Longenbach 113-14).