The Wood River Valley claims more than its fair share of celebrity personalities and historical figures. Stunning vistas, world-class ski facilities, global gourmet cuisine and a bustling arts scene have attracted international audiences.
Almost all these celebrities congregated here from other areas, but the Wood River Valley has some famous native sons as well, perhaps most notably Ezra Pound, the author and literary critic who was born in Hailey in 1885, before the Idaho territory was officially incorporated into the union of states.
Though Pound left Hailey when he was just 18 months old, the house in which he was born still stands in Hailey, and the town still incorporates the author as a component of its cultural identity.
Pound gained widespread acclaim as an author, poet and critic when he relocated to Europe as a young man. Working as an editor in London, he helped propel the careers of contemporaries like James Joyce, T.S. Eliot and Ernest Hemingway, but—like so many others—he grew disillusioned in the wake of World War I.
Moving to continental Europe, Pound adopted increasingly controversial political views, eventually espousing both Hitler’s Nazism and Mussolini’s fascism, avowing anti-Semitism and spending a dozen years in Italy writing anti-American, anti-Semitic, pro-fascist propaganda. When the Allies took Italy, Pound was arrested for treason.
Despite everything, Pound’s impacts on modern literature are undeniable, especially in the styles of Imagism and Vorticism. Beyond his original works of fiction and poetry, Pound’s works of literary criticism remain influential and insightful.
All this and more will form the backbone of a historical lecture at the Hailey Public Library this Thursday, Aug. 29, at 5:30 p.m. Local historian Ted Dyer will dive headlong into this powder-keg literary figure, tackling his artistic highs and political lows alike.
“Participants will discover how to look past Pound’s controversial politics in order to better appreciate his genius and many accomplishments as poet, critic and all-purpose cultural dynamo,” Dyer said.
The talk, titled “The Life and Work of Ezra Pound, Hailey’s Native Son,” will be presented to the public free of charge, and is in part funded by the Idaho Humanities Council.
The Hailey Public Library is currently in the midst of celebrating its centennial. For the entirety of 2019, the library is flouncing down memory lane, presenting a long series of historical lectures, activities and events, celebrating the past 100 years of the library and Hailey alike.
Next on the agenda, John Lundin will present a talk titled “Early Wood River Valley Resorts Before Sun Valley—Hailey Hot Springs and Guyer Hot Springs” on Thursday, Sept. 11.
For more information on these talks and other library events, visit haileypubliclibrary.org.