80 Flowers (1978) and GAMUT: 90 Trees


LZ comments at some length on #22 Bayberry in his Dec. 1975 reading of the first 22 Flowers (see PennSound); Leggott 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”].

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

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. Le Monde, compte rendu. Lectures de Louis Zukofsky. ENS Editions, 2011.

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

___. “Comment finir?” in Louis Zukofsky, 80 fleurs, trans. Abigail Lang. Caen: Éditions NOUS, 2018. 91-99.

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. Online.

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, Celia. L.Z.’s notes to 80 flowers (1978/2018). online Z-site; see also editor’s introductory notes.

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 (LZ would draw on the notes for these trips in 80 Flowers as well). 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. LZ outlined the parameters of the 80 Flowers project in a few brief notes replicated in CZ’s L.Z.’s notes to 80 flowers (see bibliography above).


Well before completing 80 Flowers, LZ already planned a new project for his 90th birthday, which he initially called GAMUT: trees ninty 5’s (note dated 20 April 1975), for which he gathered notes and assembled a tentative list of trees. There exist two groups of notes for this project in the small-sized loose-leaf notebook he habitually used much of his life. An initial group, including relevant old notes, are among LZ’s papers at the HRC (13.8) and  include the draft of an apparently rejected epigraph, entitled “The Overworld,” in the form of nine irregular lines, consisting entirely of phrases from Thomas Hardy’s The Dynasts. LZ copied and augmented these notes (24 pages in all) into the notebook he left at his death, which includes final fair copies of all 80 Flowers and the first poem (dated 5-11 Feb. 1978) of what he finally decided would be entitled GAMUT: 90 Trees, which is the poem included in CSP (355; strictly speaking, “Gamut” is not the title of this individual poem). The GAMUT poems were to be five lines of five words each and printed three poems per page, 30 pages in all, with the dedication: “Paul’s / to / years” and dated, “Valentines Feb 14, 1978.”