Thursday, June 28, 2007

Available Now!

For those of you (Jessica among others) who want instant gratification – or at least as instant as 5-months-in-advance gratification can be – The Poem of a Life is now available for pre-order from And such a bargain! (Mind you, the list price of $30 for the handcover, so far as I'm concerned, is already a bargain...) And it'll be out just in time for the holiday gift-giving season, if you take my hint.

Yes, that's right. The fruit of 7 or 8 years of grubbing in the archives (think Gandalf in the Minas Tirith scrolls basement, minus the pipe & tankard of ale), interviewing poets, writers, & folk of all walks of life from San Francisco to Edinburgh, and (mostly) bending over a legal pad or a word processor in a haze of tobacco smoke & caffeine – is finally available for general purchase.

The preliminary jacket copy (with one error corrected) reads as follows:
The Poem of a Life is the first critical biography of Louis Zukofsky, a fascinating and crucially important American modernist poet. It details the curve of his career, from the early Waste Land-parody “Poem beginning 'The'” (1926) to the dense and tantalizing beauties of his last poems, 80 Flowers (1978), paying special attention to the monumental, complex, and formally various epic poem “A”, on which Zukofsky labored for almost fifty years, and which he called “a poem of a life."

Zukofsky was a protégé of Ezra Pound's, an artistic collaborator and close friend of William Carlos Williams's, and the leader of a whole school of 1930s avant-garde poets, the Objectivists. Later in life he was close friends with such younger writers as Robert Creeley, Paul Blackburn, Robert Duncan, Jonathan Williams, and Guy Davenport. His work spans the divide from modernism to postmodernism, and his later writings have proved an inspiration to whole new generations of innovative poets. Zukofsky's poetry is oblique, condensed, and as fantastically detailed as the late writings of James Joyce, yet it bears at every point the marks of the poet's life and times.
All this in some 450-odd pages of text, another hundred or so of lovingly detailed notes (at least one joke in the notes, for those who actually read these things), and a carefully prepared – tho alas not particularly Zukofskyan – index. And packaged, if I may say so myself, in one of the most handsome books that the legendary designer David Bullen has ever produced. So for the love of Pete, & for my daughters' college funds, go forth & BUY!

(Feel free to post to listservs, to announce on your own blog, to tell your neighbors...)


Anonymous said...

Congrats, Dr. Scroggins. I shall have a guinness and toast your accomplishment. I'll also be among your first supporters of the college fund. Thanks for the inspiration.

Michael Peverett said...

Congrats! What an achievement, what a timescale that is - do you feel like a different person from when you started? I'll buy one as soon as. May you be let off writing duties for a long twelvemonth. Tell them you've got to write poetry - you could try using the phrase "profound spiritual crisis", it might work. Mike

Frank Sauce said...

That's one of my fav pics of LZ.

Been waiting 15 years for this and I have to wait another 5 months?

Hopefully it's good in-front-of-fire reading.

Does it read like a cold NYC winter?

Alright, I shut up now.

Thanks. Looking forward to it.

Anonymous said...


Can you drop me a quick line with your email address,

Best, Tom Wood

Anonymous said...

My first night off in a week or so, Mark (been teaching those K-12 teachers and minding the kids while R's out of town to help her dad); I'm glad to hear this good, good news!

Now you can get back to that TC octave you mentioned a while back. I need a full report, old friend!

Nicholas Manning said...

Mark, have been reading your blog for some time and am somewhat working on Zuk for my PhD here in Paris. Just wanted to let you know: looks wonderful, I'll be buying mine.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations indeed! When it actually lands, I'll make sure to make a fuss about it both on and also on The Book Depository ( website. I'm thrilled this is on the way ...

Jessica Smith said...

Yes! God I can't believe I didn't see this till now! Yay! Congrats!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Mark! I;ll be also heaving a few ducats your publisher's way...

tyrone williams

Ed Baker said...

lots of connections to friends and friends of friends both lvng/dead.. via yr LZ work..Cid was first to publish Louis on his ORIGIN..(Bob Arnold picking it up now..
just being republished my THE CITY w/ letter to me from Carl Rakosi..lots more to send your way lots of us at the Lorine Niedecker 100th... see photos my site: not sure Cid mentioned too much about LZ but in mt CC/EB LETTERS '72-'78 (tel let John Martone) maybe anyway, cheers, Ed Baker

Mark Scroggins said...

Many thanks for the kind comments, all. Yes, Mike, I do feel like a different person -- & not just because I used to have a much darker beard before I started this... Indeed, I'm not entirely sure I'd even start it, if it were up to me *now* -- or I'd start it & finish it much quicker & probably better. (Not to imply that it isn't a pretty decent book...)

Frank -- I like the picture too, tho it wasn't my first choice: I wanted the profile shot from the same Jonathan Williams sitting. But Jack Shoemaker was right to choose this one, which makes LZ look like one's jolly Jewish uncle, rather than the dour mantis of the profile (which gets reproduced as a neat frontispiece, anyway). (Did I mention the glossy photo insert?) It's definitely good front-of-fire / on the beach / under the spreading chestnut tree reading.

Thanks for announcing on yr blog, Nicholas (who are working with in Paris, by the way?) -- but I can only plead that *I* haven't been beavering at this for 15 years, but only since 1998.

What's exchange value on the ducat these days??

Ed, I'd love to see your pictures, but I can't get your url to open. Typo? The bio leans pretty heavily on Corman letters at many points -- & I'll keep an eye out for The City.

Ed Baker said...

Ah...thanks Mark..
Ed Baker art poetry Ed Baker images
I dropped out of Akanemia almost immediately (1967) too 'political'
and as 'we' shld by now know:
politics AND religion b=o=l=o=g=n=a
my mother born in Manhattan 1915 lived in the Hebrew Orphan Asylum onece she replied to my questioning her w " Oh, the Reznikoff boys were handsome. In clothing. 'that' Charles was a good dancer." K.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Mark! I look forward to reading it.

Ed Baker said...

can not seem to find your email anywhere just up on my cite
my THE CITY w a Carl Rakosi letter as an
'afterward" AND since he mentions Cid Corman (my friend) in the letter
a coincidence that I also put up RESTORATION POEMS 1972 2007 w preface by Cid
also new intro to UMA

cheers, ed Baker

Anonymous said...

Hey Mark,
I lurked in an apartment with you in Ithaca for a couple of years. Hint: Schuyler Place, Jean. Chance you could send me your email? I'm at I have a question. Really nice to see you have books with your name on the outside of 'em.