When Mr. Hollander was considered for the award three years ago, some members raised comments he had made in interviews, reviews and elsewhere that they felt should be examined when judging his candidacy. In one example, Mr. Hollander, writing a rave review in The New York Times Book Review of the collected poems of Jay Wright, an African-American poet, referred to “cultures without literatures — West African, Mexican and Central American.” And in an interview on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” a reporter paraphrased Mr. Hollander as contending “there isn’t much quality work coming from nonwhite poets today.”
Other board members said they felt that such comments were not characteristic of Mr. Hollander’s views or had been misinterpreted. Mr. Louis-Dreyfus said that even if the comments were representative, they were irrelevant criteria for judging the Frost Medal, just as he would argue that Ezra Pound’s anti-Semitism should not detract from the literary appreciation of his work.
I’m curious about what other people think of this response. Personally, I can’t think of Ezra Pound without thinking about fascism, his support of Mussolini’s political regime and his reluctance to admit error in his old age. Pound is an interesting case study to consider in terms of separating oppression from art.
Should we? And if so, why?
When it comes to the politics of oppression and art, is there a separation between what we can appreciate and what we must condemn?