Louis Zukofsky

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).

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:

Silliman on the long poems of Zukofsky and DuPlessis

Ron Silliman talks for six minutes about Louis Zukofsky's “A“ as a useful counterpoint to Rachel Blau DuPlessis's Drafts and the crisis of the long poem that is at the heart of its composition: MP3 audio.  Here is a link to the complete talk by Silliman. It was presented as part of a celebration of the poetry and criticism of DuPlessis held at Temple University in 2011.

La poésie au format Zuk

Interview: Claude Royet-Journoud by Jacqueline Pluet, trans. Abigail Lang

from Zuk No. 18, March 1989
from Zuk No. 18, March 1989

This interivew accompanies the Reissues launch of the complete run of Zuk, 1987-89 (edited by Claude Royet-Journoud).

Below is a substantial extract of “La poésie au format Zuk,” an interview of Royet-Journoud by Jacqueline Pluet on the subject of Zuk, published in issue 5 of La revue des revues in the spring of 1988. The interview can be found in full in Eric Pesty's Claude Royet-Journoud. Une Bibliographie Tome 1, 1962-2003. For more information on that publication, see here.

The Jacket2 edition of this interview is excerpted and translated by Abigail Lang.

Zukofsky performs Stevens

On April 29, 1971, Louis Zukofsky gave a lecture on Wallace Stevens, and a reading of Stevens’s and his own poems in honor of Stevens, at the University of Connecticut. This recording has long been available through the Zukofsky PennSound page, and we are, as ever, grateful to Paul Zukofsky for giving us permission to use them for non-commercial, educational purposes (and, as stipulated by Paul, they cannot be used for any other reason). Recently Anna Zalokostas went carefully through the one-and-a-half hour presentation, listening for which poems by Stevens Zukofsky read on that occasion. I was delighted to hear that among these is a beautiful reading of “The Planet on a Table,” a Stevens poem of meta-poetic retrospection. Here are the five poems performed:

  1. reads Wallace Stevens’s “From the Misery of Don Joost” (1:42): MP3
  2. reads Stevens’s “Extraordinary References” (1:22): MP3
  3. reads Stevens’s “The Planet on the Table” (1:11): MP3
  4. reads Stevens’s “Puella Parvula” (1:40): MP3
  5. reads Stevens’s “Song of Fixed Accord” (1:03): MP3

Remembering the objectivists

Norman Finkelstein (left) and Harvey Shapiro

In the fall of 2005, Harvey Shapiro and Norman Finkelstein came together — to read their poems in tandem, and to talk about the objectivists, which, in Harvey's case, entailed remembering them through years of personal as well as aesthetic interaction. Bob Perelman moderated the discussion, and here are audio recordings of a few highlights:

on the Jewishness of the objectivists
on reading Zukofsky
on Lorine Niedecker.

And there's more. Consult PennSound's Shapiro-Finkelstein page.

Bengali poetry/electro-magnetics guy

The Cincinnati-based engineer Aryanil Mukherjee has built a web site featuring translations of Bengali poetry. Aryanil listened to the recent PoemTalk episode on Zukofsky and responded as someone knowledgeable about electro-magnetics. Word from PennSound's Managing Editor Mike Hennessey is that we will soon have a Aryanil Mukherjee author page (readings of translations). So stay tuned.

poetic electricity

Writing in response to PoemTalk #22 on Zukofsky,the Cincinnati-based engineer Aryanil Mukherjee, whose site featuring translations of Bengali poetry we admire, sent us some helpful observations:

I thought I would share this with you if it makes any sense or sheds any new light with which certain aspects of the poem might be reviewed. The opening line [Its hard to see but think of a sea condensed..] made me think of exactly how an electrical condenser [ also known as a capacitor] works. Although, in the next line Zukofsky moves on to the transmission of light and waves, refers to electric stress, finally conditioning it with "unless the space the stresses cross is air". I thought that the construction and functioning of an electric condenser remains central to these lines.

Condensers build voltage and store energy [electric stress] with no real "material" actually conducting electricity. Their construction shows an air gap between the two walls across which the voltage or voltaic stress is preserved. In physics, when we compare electric circuits to elastodynamic spring-mass systems the condenser is equal to a damper which plays a similar role of dampening/amplifying a force [by reducing acceleration].

George Gamow, the Russian born American nuclear physicist, wrote a great deal of popular science. In one of these books [can't remember the title] he describes wave propagation comparing the sea to an electric circuit [and a mechanical spring-mass system] with several layers of capacitors or condencers in parallel. I thought Zukofsky's description of the sea came very close to Gamow's model especially where he talks about "many condensers large and small"...etc.

That a great deal of electric stress [and light] can be stored in between the surface waves and the seabed in layers and all of that can be actually "transmitted" without a real "felt" medium in between is perhaps not just scientific truth but also poetic electricity.

Syndicate content