80 Flowers (1978) and Gamut


LZ comments at some length on #22 Bayberry in his Dec. 1975 reading of the first 22 Flowers (see PennSound); Leggot includes a transcript of these remarks in an appendix (369-372).

Corman, Cid. “In the Event of Words.” Louis Zukofsky: Man and Poet. Ed. Carroll F. Terrell (1979): 307-309 [on “Privet”].

Irby, Kenneth. “Some Notes on Zukofsky’s 80 Flowers and Michele J. Leggott’s Reading Zukofsky’s 80 Flowers.” Sulfur 34 (1994): 234-249.

Johnson, Kent. “A Fractal Music: Some Notes on Zukofsky’s Flowers.” In Scroggins (1997): 257-275.

Kasemets, Udo. Z for Zuk for Zukofsky: A Celebration of 80 Flowers (1995).

Lang, Abigail. “‘Reading slipperwort’: des articulations syntaxiques dans 80 Flowers de Louis Zukofsky.” Revue française d’études américaines 103 (Feb. 2005): 93-103.

Leggott, Michele J. Reading Zukofsky’s 80 Flowers (1989).

___. “‘See How the Roses Burn!’ The Epigraph of Zukofsky’s 80 Flowers.” Sagetrieb 4.1 (1985): 115-136.

Levi Strauss, David. “Approaching 80 Flowers.” Code of Signals: Recent Writings in Poetics. Ed. Michael Palmer (1983): 79-102.

Lewis, Leon. “Aural Invention as Floral Splendor: Louis Zukofsky’s Vision of Natural Beauty in 80 Flowers.” The Writer’s Chronicle 40.4 (2008): 24-29.

Perloff, Marjorie. “The Return of the (Numerical) Repressed: From Free Verse to Procedural Play.” Radical Artifice: Writing Poetry in the Age of Media. U of Chicago Press, 1994. 145-150 [on “Starglow”].

Parsons, Marnie. Touch Monkeys: Nonsense Strategies for Reading Twentieth-Century Poetry (1993): 150-152.

Zukofsky, Paul. “Starglow” (part 1 of “Ce qu’on voit et ce qu’on ne voit pas”). Musical Observations website.


On “Gamut”

Corman, Cid. “GAMUT/LZ.” Origin, fifth series 4 (1984): 51-54.

Holmes, Janet. “Zukofsky vs. Syntax: Reading ‘Gamut.’” American Poet 33 (2007): 3-6.

Leggott, Michele J. Reading Zukofsky’s 80 Flowers (1989): 29-31, 359-361.


80 Flowers was composed from 27 Dec. 1974 – 21 Jan. 1978 and published in a limited fine press edition of 80 copies by the Stinehour Press in Lunenburg, Vermont in June 1978, a month after LZ’s death on 12 May 1978. In the last months of his life, LZ was working on another related volume to be called Gamut: 90 Trees, of which only a single poem or epigraph was completed. This poem was published unauthorized as a broadside in 1984 (B. Brecht, Mahogonny City [sic]). 80 Flowers and “Gamut” only became widely available with their inclusion in CSP in 1991.


LZ was already anticipating 80 Flowers while composing “A”-22 & -23. The last hundred lines of “A”-22, which work with materials related to two trips to Bermuda and the Lake Como area in Italy in 1972, are full of the the sort of botanical detail that would dominate the later book. Similarly “A”-23 contains an interlude (554.6-37) describing the Zukofskys’ new house in Port Jefferson on Long Island, full of specifics about the flora on the property. Plus there are a couple of references to the anticipated project at “A”-23.538.31 and 562.9. Promptly on completing “A”-23 (the last written movement of “A”), LZ began on the 80 Flowers project with the stated intention of working on it for a decade to be completed by his 80th birthday, but fortunately he worked well ahead of schedule. Leggott includes an Appendix that gives a chart listing the specific dates of composition for each of the poems of 80 Flowers. Well before completing 80 Flowers, LZ already planned a new project for his 90th birthday, which he initially called Gamut: Trees ninty 5’s, for which he gathered notes, including relevant old notes, and assembled a tentative list of trees. These notes include the draft of an apparently rejected epigraph, entitled “The Overworld,” in the form of nine irregular lines. The draft notebook for 80 Flowers includes what is now presumed to be the first poem or epigraph (dated 5-11 Feb. 1978) to the volume, now to be called Gamut: 90 Trees. This poem, printed in CSP (355), is in the form of five lines of five words each.