Louis Zukofsky

Gambit

Pt. 1

Albert Renger-Patzsch, “Mary Wigman’s Dance School,” 1935.
Albert Renger-Patzsch, “Mary Wigman’s Dance School,” 1935.

The poem is broken.

Can’t we admit it, out loud, if only to each other? Or else, more accurately, “the poem” (-qua- “revelation”) is broken. We’ve known this, intuitively, at least since developing the good sense to invite our readers to the table. We asked them to build the poem with us, to play Maxwell’s demon at the sliding door, orchestrating the poem’s force in an endlessly productive positive feedback loop (what Zukofsky calls “liveforever”: “Of the artist — failing he must blame himself — He wants impossible lifeforever” (Louis Zukofsky, “A”-12). But once they turned to face — said readers — eager to play ek-stasis, entropy be damned, we refused to actually acknowledge them — what they need to know and how they come to know it — listening instead to the wires “dance in the wind of the noise our poems make. The noise without an audience.

Paul Zukofsky (1943–2017)

I last saw Paul, for as it now turns out the last time, in Hong Kong a few years ago. He took Zhimin Li and me out to dinner, a French bistro, and we had a fine time talking into the night and about all manner of things, including his life in Hong Kong. I had first heard Paul play in the part of “Einstein” (the violin part) in Glass’s “Einstein on the Beach” in 1976, a stellar evening at the Metropolitan Opera House. But I only met Paul, in New York, in the early 1990s, and we remained friends since. When I was editing his father, Louis Zukofsky’s, selected poem for Library of America, Paul very much wanted to include “4 Other Countries” — I asked him to write something to explain why, and in his response he goes way beyond that. Here it is. Other articles/essays (on music) by Paul Zukofsky at Musical Observations.

Caterpillar

'A magazine of the leaf, a gathering of the tribes'

Caterpillar colophon
Caterpillar colophon

Begun in 1966 by Clayton Eshleman as a series of chapbooks by writers such as Jackson MacLow, David Antin, and Louis Zukofsky, Caterpillar Books became Caterpillar: A Gathering of the Tribes (though the subtitle was quickly dropped) in October 1967 when Eshleman realized he “could cover more ground with a literary journal than with undistributable chapbooks.” In a 2008 dialogue in Jacket, Eshleman says that he “wanted to do a magazine based on Cid Corman's Origin, but one that was bigger and more burly, taking on more ‘fronts’ than Cid had engaged.”

Cat 2 tocBegun in 1966 by Clayton Eshleman as a series of chapbooks by writers such as Jackson Mac Low, David Antin, and Louis Zukofsky, Caterpillar Books became Caterpillar: A Gathering of the Tribes (though the subtitle was quickly dropped) in October 1967 when Eshleman realized he “could cover more ground with a literary journal than with undistributable chapbo

'the pleasure of / companionship'

A review of 'The Oppens Remembered'

To understand a poet’s work it is necessary to understand a poet’s life; this is particularly the case with poet George Oppen, whose work, in Michael Heller’s estimation, frequently demonstrates “an urge toward psychic depths” and “take[s] account of contingency, of the life that impinges on us, whether it involves meeting other poets, car wrecks” — referring to Oppen’s poem “Route” (1968) — “or the wrecks of the self and world.”

Ara Shirinyan, Julia's Wilderness, c/o Zukofksy and Shakespeare

Louis Zukofsky's "Julia's Wild" from Bottom: On Shakespeare, 1960) consists of permustations on a line in Shakespeare's Two Gentleman of Verona, Act 4, Scene 4 (line 199), a part spoken by Julia:

Come, shadow, come and take this shadow up
For 'tis thy rival. O thou senseless form,
Thou shalt be worshipp'd, kiss'd, loved and adored!
And, were there sense in his idolatry,
My substance should be statue in thy stead.
I'll use thee kindly for thy mistress' sake,
That used me so; or else, by Jove I vow,

Bright arrogance #4

Translation as total listening

Image courtesy Kalan Sherrard

Like many traditional translators, Benjamin describes a bad translation as the “inaccurate transmission of inessential content,” an inaccuracy that experimenters may revel in, as they amp up the noise between versions . . . We could say in a Lacanian moment that these new translators make a pere-version of the original, seemingly derailing the paternal metaphors and prohibitions implicit in God-as-namer and the translator as the guarantor of the name. But what would it mean to take Benjamin seriously (and, with Lacan, to avow the unavoidability of the paternal imago), to search for the Adamic patois, divine remnants of the sacred language in the infomatic jumble of disaggregated signs in our literary arcades?

A short interview with Mark Goldstein

Mark Goldstein is the author of three books of poetry published by the award-winning BookThug: Form of Forms (2012); Tracelanguage (2010); and After Rilke (2008).

John Taggart: From his own words

A 2009 letter from Taggart to Joel Chace.

As Lorine Niedecker once wrote of Louis Zukofsky, I can write the same of John Taggart: “I [am] fortunate enough to call him friend and mentor.” I met John back in 1985 as a freshman at Shippensburg University. By some strange luck, I like to believe it was the hands of the gods, I was assigned John as my adviser. I was an undeclared major with “poetry” listed under Hobbies on my application.

That Taggart

'Grey Scale/Zukofsky'

That Taggart pursues meditative stamina in words approximating a drone for the verbal field is well known. That he has made sacramental use of the performed word is also acknowledged. There Are Birds does something else, however, even as it again realizes Taggart’s Objectivist scruple.

The Selected Letters of Louis Zukofsky, edited by Barry Ahearn (2013)

on z-site

free in-screen digital book

Here is the first letter, from when Zukofsky was only 15 -- a submission to Poetry magazine:

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