A Louis Zukofsky Chronology (1904-1978)

Thanks to Mark Scroggins for help with the following (see appended note below).

 

1904

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.

1913

January 21: Celia Thaew born in NYC.

 

1916

June: LZ graduates from primary school.

 

1920

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.

 

1924

June: Graduates from Columbia with an M.A. in English, thesis on Henry Adams.

 

1927

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).

 

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.

 

1929

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 -4.

September: Finishes “A”-5.

 

1930

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.

July-September: Travels 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 May 1931).

 

1931

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).

 

1932

An “Objectivists” Anthology edited by LZ published by To, Publishers based in France.

April 21-June 21: Trip West with Jerry Reisman via Arizona and Mexico to San Francisco where he stays with Irving Kaplan.

 

1933

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.

 

1934

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.

 

1935

March: Works for WPA, WNYC Radio (until Jan. 1936).

August: Begins “A”-8 (finished July 1937).

 

1936

January: Works for WPA, Federal Arts project, Index of American Design (until July 1939; research essays dated August 27, 1938 to April 28, 1939).

June: Finishes Arise, Arise.

September: Visits Niedecker at Black Hawk Island, Wisconsin with Jerry Reisman.

 

1938

August: Begins first half of “A”-9 (finished April 1940).

October 24: Gives 15 minute reading on WQXR radio, NYC.

 

1939

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 Was).

 

1940

June-July: Composes “A”-10.

November: First Half of “A”-9 privately published.

 

1941

January-February: Editor 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).

 

1942

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).

 

1943

June: LZ works for Hazeltine Electronics Corp., Little Neck, Queens, NY editing instruction manuals (until Oct.

1944).

October 22: Paul born.

 

1944

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).

 

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).

 

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.

 

1948

Summer: Zukofskys begin spending summers at Lyme and Old Lyme, Connecticut where they buy a cottage (see Little).

September: A Test of Poetry (compiled 1935-40) published by The Objectivist Press.

 

1949

September 1: Promoted to Assistant Professor at Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn.

 

1950

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.

 

1951

April-May: Composes “A”-11.

June-October: Composes “A”-12.

 

1952

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).

 

1953

Christmas: Niedecker visits the Zukofskys in NYC.

 

1954

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).

 

1955

May: LZ promoted to Associate Professor at Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn.

 

1956

September: Some Time published by Jonathan Williams.

November 30: PZ’s first solo concert at Carnegie Hall (an account appears in Little).

 

1957

June: Zukofskys 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.

 

1958

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.

 

1959

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.

 

1960

May: LZ finishes Bottom.

July-September: Composes “A”-13.

December: Longview Foundation Award from Poetry magazine for section of Bottom.

 

1961

February 3: PZ’s third violin recital at Carnegie Hall.

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).

 

1962

February: Zukofskys move to 160 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn.

September: 16 Once Published by The Wild Hawthorn Press (Edinburgh).

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.

 

1963

Receives Longview Foundation Award from Poetry magazine.

March: Composes “A”-17 in response to William Carlos Williams’ death on March 4.

May: I’s (pronounced eyes) published by Trobar Press (NY).

May: Composes “A”-16.

October: Composes “A”-20 for PZ’s 20th birthday.

December 14: Gives reading at Harvard.

 

1964

February: Bottom: On Shakespeare published by the Humanities Center of the University of Texas, Austin (although dated Sept. 1963).

Receives the Union League Civic and Arts Foundation Prize from Poetry magazine for “A”-17.

June: Zukofskys move to 77 Seventh Avenue, NYC.

August-September: Composes “A”-14.

September: After I’s published by Boxwood Press/Mother Press (Pittsburgh).

October-December: Composes “A”-15.

December: Composes “An Unearthing,” which became the prologue to “A”-18 (the remainder written 1966).

December: Reprint of A Test of Poetry published by Jargon/Corinth.

 

1965

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 Davenport.

December 14: At Yaddo writers’ colony (until March 1, 1966) where LZ and CZ finish work on Catullus (February 1, 1966).

 

1966

February 12: Composes “A”-19 (finished May 29).

Receives Oscar 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.

 

1967

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).

 

1968

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.

 

1969

“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.

 

1970

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.

 

1971

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).

 

1972

January: Family trip to Bermuda (details appear at the end of “A”-22).

Summer: Zukofskys 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). 

 

1973

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 by LZ.

October: LZ and CZ move to 306 East Broadway, Port Jefferson, Long Island, NY.

 

1974

December: Begins composing 80 Flowers (finished Jan. 1978).

 

1975

September: “A” 22 & 23 published by Grossman.

June 15-17: Attends and reads at Symposium on Ezra Pound, University of Maine, Orono.

 

1977

June 4: LZ receives Honorary D.Litt, from Bard College, NY.

 

1978

February: Composes opening and only poem of Gamet: 90 Trees.

May 12: Death of LZ at Port Jefferson.

July: 80 Flowers published in limited edition by Stinehour Press, Vermont.

December: “A” (complete edition) published by the University of California Press.

 

1979

CZ publishes American Friends, printed by Stinehour Press, Vermont.

 

1980

November 18: Death of CZ in Port Jefferson.

 

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.