A Louis Zukofsky
Thanks to Mark Scroggins for help with the following (see appended
January 23: LZ born on the
Lower East Side of Manhattan, NYC; the youngest child of Pinchos
(c.1860-1950) and Chana Pruss
(c.1962-1927), married 1887, Yiddish speaking immigrants from Lithuania (now
Belarus), then part of Russia. Pinchos immigrated
alone in 1898 and then brought the rest of his family in 1903. LZ was the only
child born in the US, and there were five older siblings: two died in infancy,
two sisters, Dora (1888-1913) and Fanny (1890-1972), and a brother, Morris
Ephraim (1892-1966). LZ was born and grew up at 97 Chrystie
Street, a block east of the Bowery. Around 1914 the family would move uptown to
57 E. 111th Street, where LZ lived more or less through the 1920s.
January 21: Celia Thaew born in NYC.
June: LZ graduates from
January: LZ graduates from
Stuyvesant High School, which specializes in math and science, then located on
East 15th Street.
Enrolls in Columbia University. Among LZ’s classmates, several of whom
would remain life-long friends, were Irving Kaplan, Whittaker Chambers, Samuel
Theodore Hecht, John Waldhorn Gassner,
Clifton Fadiman, Meyer Shapiro, Mortimer J. Adler and Lionel Trilling.
November: First poetic
publications in Columbia student journals and will continue to publish
frequently during his university years.
June: Graduates from
Columbia with an M.A. in English, thesis on Henry Adams.
January 29: Death of LZ’s
mother (mentioned in “A”-5, -6 and Arise, Arise).
October: Works for the
National Industrial Conference Board, NYC (until March 1928).
Spring: “Poem beginning
‘The’” (written 1926) published by Ezra Pound in The Exile.
April 1: LZ first meets
William Carlos Williams at Pound’s instigation.
April 5: LZ attends
performance of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion
at Carnegie Hall, which becomes the setting for “A”-1 written the same year.
Composes “A”-1 and -2.
Meets Jerry Reisman (1913-2000), one of his students when teaching
part-time at Stuyvesant High School. They will remain close friends until 1947,
collaborating on various literary works, although Reisman’s
primary interests are in science and engineering, which will have their impact on
LZ’s work as well.
Summer: Composes “A”-3 and
September: Finishes “A”-5.
Throughout the 1930s up
until his marriage in 1939, LZ lived in many short-term apartments mostly in
Brooklyn and lower Manhattan, but also in the Bronx and Queens.
July: meets Basil Bunting
when the latter is in NYC during the latter half of the year.
west via the Mid-West and Nevada to spend part of summer in Berkeley with
Columbia classmate Irving Kaplan (details appear in “A”-6.32-35). In August while staying with Kaplan will compose
“A”-6 and -7.
September: Instructor in
English and Comparative Literature at University of Wisconsin, Madison (until
February: Publication of
the “Objectivists” issue of Poetry
edited by LZ. In response to the “Objectivists” issue, Lorine
Niedecker begins correspondence with LZ.
August 19: LZ gives talk at
the Gotham Book Mart, NYC, “‘Recencies’ in Poetry,”
which will become introduction to An
“Objectivists” Anthology (1932).
September: LZ draws a
stipend as editor of To Publishers, owned and paid for by George Oppen (until Aug. 1932).
An “Objectivists” Anthology edited by LZ published by To, Publishers based
April 21-June 21: Trip West
with Jerry Reisman via Arizona and Mexico to San
Francisco where he stays with Irving Kaplan.
June 30-September 15: Trip
to Europe. Spends a week in Normandy and Brittany with René Taupin.
In Paris in July where he meets Fernand Léger, Constantin Brancusi, Hilaire Hiler and Walter Lowenfels.
Arrives in Budapest 7 August where he sees Tibor Serly. Visits Pound and Bunting in Rapallo, Italy in August
for two and a half weeks, where he meets James Laughlin.
Late in the year Niedecker visits LZ in NYC.
January: Works for Works
Projects Administration (WPA), Columbia University projects until March 1935.
Meets Celia Thaew (1913-1980) while working for WPA (Thaew is pronounced Tave,
Scroggins Bio 142).
Le Style Apollinaire, written in collaboration with and translated
by René Taupin, is published in Paris.
March: Works for WPA, WNYC
Radio (until Jan. 1936).
August: Begins “A”-8 (finished July 1937).
January: Works for WPA,
Federal Arts project, Index of American
Design (until July 1939; research essays dated August 27, 1938 to April 28,
June: Finishes Arise, Arise.
September: Visits Niedecker at Black Hawk Island, Wisconsin with Jerry Reisman.
August: Begins first half
of “A”-9 (finished April 1940).
October 24: Gives 15 minute
reading on WQXR radio, NYC.
August 20: LZ and CZ marry
in Wilmington, Delaware.
September: Works for WPA,
NYC Arts project, WNYC Radio scripts (until Jan. 1941; radio scripts dated
November 16, 1939 to April 4, 1940).
September 15: Zukofskys move to 1088 East 180th Street, Bronx, NYC (until
end of June 1942; details described in “It
June-July: Composes “A”-10.
November: First Half of “A”-9 privately published.
with René Taupin of La France en Liberté, a journal of free
French writing that never materialized.
March: Final period of work
for WPA, NYC Arts Project (until April 1942).
October: 55 Poems published by James A. Decker
(Prairie City, Illinois).
Summer: At Diamond Point,
Lake George, NY where LZ revises first seven movements of “A”.
October 1: Zukofskys move to 202 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn (until
Sept. 1, 1944).
November: LZ does
substitute teaching in NYC high schools (until June 1943).
June: LZ works for Hazeltine Electronics Corp., Little Neck, Queens, NY editing
instruction manuals (until Oct.
October 22: PZ born.
Zukofskys living at 163rd Street, Flushing, NY.
October: LZ works for Jordanoff Aviation Corp., editing instruction manuals,
which involves periods in Cambridge, Mass. and Towson/Baltimore, Maryland
(until March 1946).
May 1: Zukofskys
move to 30 Willow Street, Brooklyn (until June 1957).
March: Anew published by James A. Decker (Prairie City, Illinois).
March: LZ works for Techlit Consultants, NYC (Jerry Reisman’s
company) editing instruction manuals (until Jan. 1947).
January-February: LZ does
substitute teaching at Brooklyn Technical High School.
February: LZ begins
teaching at Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn as instructor, where he will
remain until his retirement as an Associate Professor in 1966.
Summer: Teaches summer
courses on Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature at Colgate University,
Hamilton, NY; begins writing essay on Shakespeare that will evolve into Bottom (finished 1960).
September: Teaches evening course
in creative writing at Queens College, Flushing, NY (until June 1948).
Winter: Reading performance
of Arise, Arise by the Dramatic
Workshop directed by Erwin Piscator, at the New
School for Social Research.
begin spending summers at Lyme and Old Lyme, Conneticut
where they buy a cottage (see Little).
September: A Test of Poetry (compiled 1935-40)
published by The Objectivist Press.
September 1: Promoted to
Assistant Professor at Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn.
April 11: Death of LZ’s
father, Pinchos (mentioned in “A”-12).
July-August: Composes the
second half of “A”-9, although LZ indicates it was begun in 1948.
December 29: Receives Lola
Ridge Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America.
April-May: Composes “A”-11.
Summer: first of two
summers Zukofskys spend in upstate NY at
Elizabethtown near Lake Champlain while PZ attends summer program at nearby Meadowmount School of Music established by PZ’s violin teacher,
Ivan Galamian (see Little).
Christmas: Niedecker visits the Zukofskys in
Summer: July 11 the Zukofskys visit Ezra Pound at St. Elizabeths;
PZ plays at Pound’s request (mentioned in “A”-13). The Zukofskys
continue on a trip to the South and West, including western Canada, via a visit
to Niedecker at Black Hawk Island, Wisconsin; LZ
records reading for KPFA in San Francisco on Aug. 6 (details mentioned in “A”-13).
May: LZ promoted to
Associate Professor at Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn.
September: Some Time published by Jonathan
November 30: PZ’s first
solo concert at Carnegie Hall (an account appears in Little).
move to 135 Willow Street, Brooklyn Heights.
June 18-September 18: Zukofskys travel to Europe via ship, visiting England,
France, Italy and Switzerland (recorded in “4 Others Countries”); stay with
Gael Turnbull in Worcester and Basil Bunting in Northumbria;
meets Olga Rudge in Sienna and Cid Corman in
Florence. Also visit St. Michel, Chartres, Poitiers, Périgueux,
the caves at Lascaux., Lake Como, Verona.
CZ and LZ begin
“translating” Catullus (finished 1966).
June 23-August 1: At Robert
Duncan’s instigation, poet in residence at San Francisco State College. 5 Statements for Poetry published June
25 as part of his teaching materials by SFSC.
September: Barely and widely published by Celia Zukofsky.
November: Oppens visit in NYC.
February 30: PZ’s second
Carnegie Hall concert (an account appears in Little).
June 29-July 16: Trip to
Mexico driving cross-country with the Oppens, visit
pyramids at Teotihuacán near Mexico City and return by airplane (see “Jaunt”)
December: “A” 1-12 published by Cid Corman’s Origin Press in Japan.
May: LZ finishes Bottom.
July-September: Composes “A”-13.
Foundation Award from Poetry magazine
for section of Bottom.
November: It Was published by Origin Press in
Japan (includes “It Was,” “A Keystone Comedy” and Ferdinand, all written in the early 1940s, plus “Thanks to the
Dictionary,” written in the 1930s).
February: Zukofskys move to 160 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn.
September: 16 Once Published by The Wild Hawthorn
October 21-24: Attends 50th
celebration of Poetry magazine at the
Library of Congress, Washington D.C., mentions meeting Mark Van Doren, Allen Tate, Delmore
Schwartz, Henry Rago.
Foundation Award from Poetry
March: Composes “A”-17 in response to William Carlos
Williams’ death on March 4.
May: I’s (pronounced eyes) published by Trobar
May: Composes “A”-16.
October: Composes “A”-20 for PZ’s 20th birthday.
December 14: Gives reading
February: Bottom: On Shakespeare published by the
Humanities Center of the University of Texas, Austin (although dated Sept.
Receives the Union League
Civic and Arts Foundation Prize from Poetry
magazine for “A”-17.
move to 77 Seventh Avenue, NYC.
September: After I’s published by Boxwood
Press/Mother Press (Pittsburgh).
October-December: Composes “A”-15.
December: Begins “A”-18 (finished 1966).
December: Reprint of A Test of Poetry published by
April: ALL: The Collected Poems 1923-1958 published by W.W. Norton.
August: Retires from
Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn.
August: Performance of Arise, Arise at the Cinémathèque
Theatre in NYC.
September 27-30: gives
reading and lectures at the University of Kentucky a the invitation of Guy
December 14: At Yaddo writers’ colony (until March 1, 1966) where LZ and CZ
finish work on Catullus (February 1,
February 12: Composes “A”-19 (finished May 29).
Blumenthal-Charles Leviton Prize from Poetry magazine for “A”-14 and -15.
March 8: Continues with
“A”-18 (finished April 28).
August 15: Begins “A”-21
(finished May 14,1967).
November: ALL: The Collected Poems 1956-1964
published by W.W. Norton.
June: Prepositions: The Collected Critical Essays published by Rapp &
Carroll (London); American edition appears March 1968.
August: LZ returns to the
novel Little, which he began in 1950
(finished July 28, 1969).
January 30: Reads at the
Guggenheim Museum, NYC sponsored by the Academy of American Poets.
March: CZ presents LZ with L.Z.
Masque, which becomes “A”-24 (CZ
began work on this in 1966).
March: Attends Second
Buffalo (NY) Festival of the Arts Today, where he gives a reading broadcast
live over radio on the 4th.
May 16: At the University
of Wisconsin, Madison for a reading and interview with L.S. Dembo
as part of a series on the “Objectivist” Poet—Oppen, Reznikoff and Rakosi had made
their visits in the preceding month. Sees Niedecker
for the last time the following day.
“A” 13-21 published by Jonathan Cape and Doubleday.
Catullus published by Cape Goliard and Grossman.
CZ’s A Bibliography of Louis Zukofsky
published by Black Sparrow Press.
May: Trip to London with CZ
for two weeks; meets Tom Pickard and David Jones; reads at U.S. Embassy on May
21 (see “On the Gas Age”).
October 16: Reads at the
University of Texas, Austin.
November 20-22: Attends
International Festival of Poetry in Austin, Texas also attended by Creeley, Duncan, Czeslaw Milosz, Octavio Paz and Jorge Luis Borges.
February: Begins “A”-22 (finished April 1973).
April: Autobiography, a selection of short poems set to music by CZ,
published by Grossman.
September: Little published by Grossman.
March 31: Autobiography performed at the Lincoln
Center Library and Museum of the Performing Arts, NYC.
April 29: Reading and
lecture at the Eighth Annual Wallace Stevens program, University of
Connecticut, Storrs (lecture transcribed and revised as “Wallace Stevens”).
October 13-November 10:
Guest Professorship at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, giving a series
of weekly seminars, “Poetics as Autobiography” (described in Butterick).
January: Family trip to
Bermuda (details appear at the end of “A”-22).
move to 240 Central Park South, NYC.
“A”-24 published by Grossman.
November 9-December 14:
with CZ in Bellagio, Italy on Lake Como at the Villa Serbelloni
as a Rockefeller Foundation fellow (details appear at the end of “A”-22).
April: Begins “A”-23 (finished Sept. 21, 1974).
April: Arise, Arise published by Grossman (written 1936).
Summer: Performance of Arise, Arise and “A”-24 at the Cubiculo in NYC, attended
October: LZ and CZ move to
306 East Broadway, Port Jefferson, Long Island, NY.
December: Begins composing 80 Flowers (finished Jan. 1978).
September: “A” 22 & 23 published by Grossman.
June 15-17: Attends and
reads at Symposium on Ezra Pound, University of Maine, Orono.
June 4: LZ receives
Honorary D.Litt, from Bard College, NY.
February: Composes opening
and only poem of Gamet: 90 Trees.
May 12: Death of LZ at Port
July: 80 Flowers published in limited edition by Stinehour
December: “A” (complete edition) published by the
University of California Press.
CZ publishes American Friends, printed by Stinehour Press, Vermont.
November 18: Death of CZ in
Note: The above chronology has been compiled from various sources,
largely in the public domain, not all of which are consistent with each other
on specific details. Mark Scroggins has generously shared some information he
used in writing his biography, which itself has supplied further details and
refinements. Also I have relied on Scroggins for more precise identification of
composition dates and occasional corrections of the primary source for such
dates in Booth and Henderson.