Upper Limit Music: The Writing of Louis Zukofsky

Upper Limit Music: The Writing of Louis Zukofsky

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Author: Mark Scroggins

Publisher: University Alabama Press (1997)

Scroggins provides a provocative and advanced introduction to the thought and writing of Louis Zukofsky, aptly described as one of the "first postmodernists."

Poet, translator, and editor, Louis Zukofsky was born in New York City in 1904. Raised to speak first Yiddish and then English, he was fascinated by language from an early age. This deep preoccupation with language––its musicality, complex constructions, and fluid meaning––later became a key component in the development of his poetry. Friend to William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore, and Ezra Pound; mentor to Robert Creeley and influence on many of the Language Movement poets; Zukofsky and his work stand squarely at the center of American poetry's transition from modernism to postmodernism.

Mark Scroggins advances thoughtful readings of Zukofsky's key critical essays, a wide variety of his shorter poems, and his "poem of a life", "A". He carefully situates Zukofsky within his literary and historical contexts, examining his relationship to Pound, his 1930s Marxist politics, and his sense of himself as a Jewish modernist poet. Scroggins also places Zukofsky within an ongoing tradition of American poetry, including the work of Wallace Stevens, Charles Bernstein, Ronald Johnson, Michael Palmer, and John Taggart.