Academic journal article Chicago Review

A Selection of Louis Zukofsky's Correspondence (1930-1976)

Academic journal article Chicago Review

A Selection of Louis Zukofsky's Correspondence (1930-1976)

Article excerpt

Louis Zukofsky carried on an energetic correspondence from the late 1920s until his death in 1978. He seldom allowed a letter to go unanswered, and he often wrote quite lengthy ones. The range of his correspondents is striking: Paul Blackburn, Kenneth Burke, Robert Creeley, Guy Davenport, Diane di Prima, Robert Duncan, T. S. Eliot, Robert Kelly, Hugh Kenner, Lincoln Kirstein, Ezra Pound, Henry Rago, Jerome Rothenberg, Gilbert Sorrentino, Frances Steloff, Charles Tomlinson, Mark Van Doren, Yvor Winters. And that list only represents a fraction of his correspondents.

Among the Zukofsky papers at the Humanities Research Center in Texas are several drafts of letters. They attest to his care in arriving at the precise expression he wished to convey. (There were presumably many drafts long since discarded.) Almost all his letters were handwritten. Occasionally in the 1920s and 1930s a letter to a publisher or some eminent person would be typed by a friend; after their marriage Celia did the typing as it was needed.

Even though many letters must have been drafted at least once, the final versions frequently are marked with inserted afterthoughts or qualifications. In this respect they bear a similarity to the drafts of other work to be found in the HRC. Both letters and drafts reflect an intellect not content to rest until the statement had been accorded maximum accuracy.

The letters selected here spotlight moments ranging over Zukofsky's whole career. The sole deletion is indicated by ellipses within square brackets; angle brackets indicate Zukofsky's insertions.

to Ezra Pound | 10/13/1930 | Madison, Wisconsin

Dear E: One might not think it would happen again for months and months and months--but you've moved things again. I.e. evidently under your influence, Harriet Monroe has asked me to take charge of a number of "Poetry" and to present my "new group." Naturally, I haven't a "group" or know one, but I have new work on hand by Wm. C.W., Chas. Reznikoff, Geo. Oppen etc. "Perhaps" you know of a new group. Any material received before Dec. 20 (for the Feb. 1931) issue will be welcome. I should like the latest addresses of Rakosi, Loomis, etc. for instance. There will probably be enough material by murkns, but I've no tariff on English goods, say Bunting or MacLeod (of the Zodiac) if you can get him.

Who is Edmund Covelesci--or something of that sort--I heard you sponsored him, but have never come across his volume.

Did you ever act nice to Mr. E. E. Cummings and returned his photos of Self-Portrait and Gould with a charming letter, after Varietes went back on us--I mean do I dare ask him for a poem?

Incidentally you write some "new" poetry yourself occasionally--say a line of a Canto or something.

I can fill in the prose with maybe my "Reznikoff" which contains general references to the history of the subject. The Am. Poetry 1920-1930 would be better, but, I'm afraid, "Symposium" has accepted it. If H & H doesn't print my review of XXX Cantos, I'll have a review. Any sentenshus remarks in prose-rodeo by Mr. E. P. should be speeded on to me. I shall probably translate Monsieur Reenay Toppin's late essay on Andre Salmon--and introduce (following an honorable tradition) a Frenchman into English.

Incidentally, where is L'Indice published--I mean what burg? Please send me a copy--No Echanges no. 3--yet. No news from T. S. E.

Have been talking "How to Read," "The Education of H.A.," and "XXX Cantos" to my 3 classes--1 advanced Frosh English, 2 Surveys in English Lit.! Your reccomdashe tellung um I was too good for 'em--knocked 'em all cold. They didn't know what a "nice" person they were going to meet till they met him and they're not sorry I think, even if they are embarrassed to blushes everytime they speak to me (even the oldest of the confessors)--God knows why!

Reading Jefferson and stuck trying to decide what he invented and what he took over. …

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