Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Bottoms Up

Well, I've almost finished rereading Bottom: On Shakespeare.  I think I understand it a little better than I did the last time I read it.  I've read a lot more Shakespeare since then.  Of course, reading this book makes me want to reread all of Shakespeare.  I wonder if anyone has ever performed Celia Zukofsky's Pericles.  If find it interesting that both Bottom: On Shakespeare and "A" conclude with massive constructions by Celia.  Of course, the Zukofsky's marriage and their family unit with their son Paul seems central to Zukofsky's writing.  I particularly love the dialogue between father and son about all of Shakespeare's works which appears in the center of Bottom.

I look forward to reading "A" 1 on December 1.  Man, Mr. Zukofsky sure knows a lot of languages.  Reading him makes me want to work on my Latin, etc.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Well, I finally listened to "A" 24 all the way through - .  I've read "A" 1 - 23 three times, but I've only made it through 24 once so far.  I found it interesting, but I don't claim to understand it.

I thought of checking out Pound/Zukofsky from the Riverside Library, but they no longer have it.  Did someone steal it?  Did it get damaged from overreading by the many Zukofsky fans in Riverside?  Did they simply get rid of it?

I've reread a chunk of Bottom: On Shakespeare.  Once again, I enjoy it but I can't make it cohere.  I get lost in all the quotes from philosophers like Aristotle and Spinoza.  (Nov. 24 marks Spinoza's birthday.)  I do look forward to beginning "A" on Dec. 1.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Before "A"

I first fell in love with Ezra Pound's writing when I read Guide to Kulchur in the summer of 1983.  Pound dedicated that work to Louis Zukofsky and Basil Bunting.  Over the next two years I read a bunch of Pound and Robert Creeley, and Creeley frequently referred to Mr. Zukofsky.  In June of  1985 I attended the Ezra Pound Centennial at the University of Maine, Orano.  I met Bob Creeley there, and we became friends.  I talked with him about coming to study with him at SUNY, Buffalo, but he told me not to.  He said one of his students wanted to do his thesis on Zukofsky, and they wouldn't let him; they considered Zukofsky too minor.  At this point I hadn't read any Zukofsky.

Later in the 80's my mom asked me what I wanted for Christmas one year.  I gave her the names of a few poets recommended by Creeley including Zukofsky and asked for some of their books.  She got me A Test of Poetry and All: The Collected Shorter Poems.  As with Ezra Pound, Zukofsky's criticism hooked me before his poetry did.  I loved A Test of Poetry, and I've read it over and over again.  I tried teaching it once to a tenth grade honors English class, but they didn't seem to respond well to it.  I particularly love the edition with the cool introduction by Bob Creeley.  (One reason Zukofsky seems so special to me seems thaefact that I don't tend to teach him.  Reading him seems separate from my school reading, although he certainly influences my teaching.)

I gradually finished All, and I checked "A" and Bottom out of the library, but I didn't finish either of them.  Finally in 1997 my future wife bought me a copy "A", and I've read it ever since.  She got it for me a few weeks before my father died, and I guess Pound, Creeley, and Zukofsky have played sort of poetic father roles for me.  Pound pisses me off more that the other two.

In November of 2012 I found Barry Ahearn's guide to "A" inside an old briefcase of my father's in the garage.  I'd forgotten I'd bought it.  I bought it the last time my dad and visited a bookstore.  That inspired me to reread "A" 1-23 last December and read the Ahearn book for the first time.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Howdy.  I've taught high school over the past fifteen years, and I've found that during holidays (summer, Christmas, etc.) I find myself enjoying Louis Zukofsky's writing more and more.  Last December it occurred to me to reread "A" 1 - 23 during December, reading one section of the poem each day during the first 23 days of the month.  Now, it may seem odd to focus on a Jewish poet during Advent, but I enjoyed it, I think I will repeat the experiment this year.  Feel free to join me.