Thursday, June 02, 2005

LZ by RS, part 2: the short poems

Another great post from Ron, this one outlining what he would choose from Zukofsky’s short poems for the hypothetical selected. I don’t want to quibble much with the choices – some things are obvious, and after that there are pieces that are a matter of simple taste – tho I myself would be strongly inclined to put more of Some Time in there. That collection’s not simply “the remainder of the little Zukofsky wrote during the [1951-1959] hiatus from ‘A’” – it’s his second largest single collection, after 55 Poems, and includes basically all of the short poems he wrote from something like 1945 to 1955 (including a number of pieces originally intended for Anew). I’d be loath to leave out “A Song for the Year’s End” and “Chloride of Lime and Charcoal.” And while I value 80 Flowers over Catullus, I think there’s a great deal more going on in there than just LZ working out his “homophonic” translation technique. (When enough people have read David Wray’s article in the Chicago Review LZ issue, perhaps that term will be mercifully retired.)

But I was reminded last summer, seeing Robert Creeley at Orono with his old, battered copy of the 1946 Anew, of how much we lose in not having the original collections as single volumes. (To second Stefen’s comment, as it were.) That’s especially true of Barely and widely, which was published originally in a facsimile of LZ’s handwriting – a really lovely little book, where the reader (at least this reader) gets a sense of being closer to the poet at work than in any printed format.

By the way, LZ was selected in his lifetime at least three times. 16 Once Published, put out in 1962 by Ian Hamilton Finlay’s Wild Hawthorn Press, was Celia’s selection of her husband’s work, and included:

Poem 10 from 55 Poems
Poem 19 “ “
Song 3 “ “
Song 5 “ “
Song 25 “ “
Poem 1 from Anew
Poem 12 “ “
Poem 15 “ “
Poem 36 “ “
Poem 37 “ “
“Xenophanes” from Some Time
“Air” “ “
“Shang Cup” “ “
“An Incident” “ “
Poem 3 from Barely and widely
Poem 9 “ “

Found Objects, published in 1964 by Blue Grass Books, was LZ’s own selection, and runs in reverse chronological order:

The Ways
Stratford-on Avon (Barely and widely)
The Guests “ “
Michtam “ “
Poem 42 from Anew
Poem 14 “ “
Poem 26 “ “
“Mantis” from 55 Poems
Song 28 “ “
Song 27 “ “
Song 22 “ “
Poem beginning “The” “ “

There’s also a very odd little Italian selection/translation from 1970, Da A (trans. Giovanni Galtieri, Parma: Editore Guanda), which includes a number of poems from 55 Poems and Anew and some movements from “A”: “A”-1, -2, -9, -10, and –11. I have no idea who made the choices on that one.

Off to New York in the morning for J.'s high school reunion. Last time I did this, I ran into Chip Delany in the lobby, and got to hear him belting out the school song in the auditorium! (They're not the same class, by the way...)

Taha Muhammad Ali, Never Mind: Twenty Poems and a Story, trans. Peter Cole, Yahya Hijazi, and Gabriel Levin. Jerusalem: Ibis Editions, 2000.

On the earbuds:
Naked City, Live Volume 1: Knitting Factory

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