Z-siteA Companion to the Works of Louis Zukofsky
A Louis Zukofsky Chronology (1904-1978)
Thanks to Mark Scroggins for help with the following (see appended note below).
January 23: LZ born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, NYC; the youngest child of Pinchos (c.1860-1950) and Chana Pruss (c.1862-1927), 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. In 1926 the family would move uptown to 57 E. 111th Street, where LZ lived more or less through to the end of the decade.
LZ attends P.S. 7 on the corner of Hester and Chrystie Streets from 1909/10 and then P.S. 62 (also known as Seward Park Intermediate School) on Grant and Essex Streets, graduating 30 June 1916.
January 21: Celia Thaew born in NYC to Hyman (1885-1953) and Becky (d. 1980) Thaew.
LZ attends Stuyvesant High School, which specializes in math and science, then located on East 15th Street, NYC. Publishes poems in the student literary journal, The Caliper. Graduates in Jan. 1920.
February 1920: matriculates at Columbia University. Among LZ’s classmates, several of whom would remain life-long friends, were Mortimer J. Adler, Whittaker Chambers, Clifton Fadiman, John Waldhorn Gassner, Samuel Theodore Hecht, Irving Kaplan, Meyer Shapiro and Lionel Trilling.
November 1920: First publications in Columbia student journals, Varsity and Morningside, in which he will continue to publish frequently during his university years.
June 4: Graduates from Columbia University 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 he taught part-time at Stuyvesant High School. They will remain close friends until 1947, collaborating on various literary works, although Reisman’s primary interests were in science and engineering, which would have their impact on LZ’s work.
Summer: Composes “A”-3 and -4.
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.
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 in Berkeley composes “A”-6 and -7.
September: Instructor in English and Comparative Literature at University of Wisconsin, Madison (until May 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).
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.
June 30-September 15: Trip to Europe. Sails from NYC landing in Cherbourg 6 July. Spends a week in Normandy and Brittany with René Taupin. In Paris for two and the half weeks where he meets Fernand Léger, Constantin Brancusi, Hilaire Hiler, Pierre de Massot and Walter Lowenfels. Arrives in Budapest 29 July where he sees Tibor Serly. Visits Pound and Bunting in Rapallo from 12 Aug. for two and a half weeks, where he meets James Laughlin. Leaves Rapallo at the beginning of Sept. making his way back via Paris to catch the return ship on 7 Sept.
Late in the year Niedecker visits LZ in NYC.
January: Works for Civil Works Administration (CWA), Columbia University projects until March 1935 [the CWA was a short-lived federal jobs creation project during the winter of 1933-1934, ending in March 1934, but in LZ’s case seems to have been rolled over into WPA sponsored projects, one of which was a survey of youth community service published as Paul R. Hanna, Youth Serves the Community (1936), for which both LZ and CZ are listed as research workers].
Meets Celia Thaew (1913-1980) [Thaew is pronounced Tave] while working for Works Progress Administration (WPA).
Le Style Apollinaire, written for and translated into French by René Taupin, published in Paris.
March: Works for Works Progress Administration (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 27, 1939); research essays dated August 27, 1938 to April 28, 1939.
June: Finishes the play 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 Was”).
June-July: Composes “A”-10.
November: First Half of “A”-9 privately published.
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).
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. 1944).
October 22: Paul born in Brooklyn.
September: Zukofskys living at 163rd Street, Flushing, NY (until end of April 1946).
October: LZ works for Jordanoff Aviation Corp., editing instruction manuals, which involves the winter of 1945-1946 in 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).
Sept.-Dec.: teaches an evening course at Queens College on Writing for Publication (!).
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 August 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.
Summer: Zukofskys begin spending summers through 1951 at Lyme and Old Lyme, Connecticut where they buy a cottage in 1949 (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.
June-October: Composes “A”-12.
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 NYC.
Summer: July 11 the Zukofskys visit Ezra Pound at St. Elizabeths, Washington, DC; PZ plays at Pound’s request (mentioned in “A”-13). The Zukofskys continue on a trip to the South and West Coast, 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 Williams.
November 30: PZ’s first solo concert at Carnegie Hall (an account appears in Little).
June: Zukofskys move to 135 Willow Street, Brooklyn Heights (until Jan. 1962).
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 Mont-Saint-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 6: PZ’s second Carnegie Hall concert (an account appears in Little).
March 1: the family moves upstairs to a larger 10th story apartment at the same address, 135 Willow Street, Brooklyn Heights.
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.
December: Longview Foundation Award from Poetry magazine for section of Bottom.
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).
February: Zukofskys move to 160 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn (until June 1964).
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.
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.
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 (until June 1972).
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.
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, Saratoga Springs, NY (until March 1, 1966) where LZ and CZ finish work on Catullus (February 1, 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.
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).
June: Zukofskys move to 240 Central Park South, NYC (until Oct. 1973).
“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 by LZ.
October: LZ and CZ move to a house at 306 East Broadway, Port Jefferson, Long Island, NY where they will be for the remainder of their lives.
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 first and only poem of Gamut: 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.
CZ publishes American Friends, Stinehour Press, Vermont.
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.