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Louis Zukofsky

(1904—1978)


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(1904–78),

born of Russian immigrant parents on New York's Lower East Side, has come to be recognized as a major poet although his work was not commercially printed in a book until he was in his fifties. His lyric poems, spare, precise, and powerful, were first gathered from little magazines and booklets when he was in his sixties into All the Collected Short Poems, 1923–1958 (1965) and All the Collected Short Poems, 1956–1964 (1966). His works are marked by organic form, sharp observation, and verbal association with the object with which the poem began, and he was considered a leader of the Objectivist school. In 1927 he started his great poem “A,” presenting in diverse forms his experience of art and life, of personal and public events, that began in “A,” 1–12 (1959) and “A” 13–21 (1969) and was finally completed with the publication in 832 pages of “A,” (1979). His poetic theories and other critical concepts are found in Le Style Apollinaire (Paris, 1934), A Test of Poetry (1948), Prepositions (1967), and The Gas Age (1969). His aesthetic views are also to be found in Bottom: On Shakespeare (2 vols., 1963), whose second part contains his wife Celia's musical setting for Pericles. With her he translated Catullus (1969), and to the poetic personal statements that make up his Autobiography (1970) she contributed musical settings for his lyrics. He also published works of fiction: It Was (1961), revised as Ferdinand (1968), and Little; for Careenagers (1970), a comic tale of a prodigy violinist from his birth to age 12. Zukofsky was a professor of English at various institutions, notably Polytechnic Institute, Brooklyn, and the University of Connecticut.

Subjects: Literature


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