Marcella Spann, New York, ca. 1956.


Ezra Pound's “admission” slip, sent to Spann before her first visit to St. Elizabeths, April 1957.


Marcella Spann was a twenty-four-year-old English teacher when she first wrote to Ezra Pound in 1956. The poet was in the tenth year of his twelve-year confinement at St. Elizabeths Hospital for the insane in Washington, where he had been committed in lieu of standing trial for treason for his wartime support of Mussolini. Pound was allowed visitors, and he had many: poets like William Carlos Williams, his publisher James Laughlin, and young admirers seeking the wisdom of the modernist master. Spann became a regular visitor, assisting him as he added to The Cantos, and later working with him on the anthology Confucius to Cummings. Over time, Pound sent her more than seven hundred letters—he once claimed that postage was his biggest expense—many of them written in the gamboling, madcap verse style that was his signature. These letters, together with unpublished poems, photographs, and other Poundian ephemera collected by Spann, were recently acquired by the Harry Ransom Center in Austin. The documents here are selected from that archive, a gleaning from the vast outpouring of material that Pound recognized would constitute its own field of study: Ezrologie.

Pound at St. Elizabeth’s, March 1955.


Letter from Pound to Spann, August 14, 1956.