Literary Genius Louis Zukofsky to Be Focus of UB Conference

Release Date: March 25, 1997 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo will present a celebration of the work of modernist poetic genius Louis Zukofsky on April 25 and 26 designed to illuminate various aspects of the poet's life, work and considerable importance as a writer.

All events will be free of charge and open to the public.

One of the century's most influential and daring literary figures, Zukofsky was a prolific writer little known to the general public because of the experimental, non-canonical nature of his work. His effect upon contemporary American literature has been nonetheless profound, emphasizing as it does the dissonance, melody and contradiction inherent in 20th-century American culture and language.

The Louis Zukofsky Conference was organized by poet Robert Creeley, Samuel P. Capen Professor of Poetry and the Humanities at UB, who counts Zukofsky as one of the major influences on his work.

€ Poet John Taggart, professor at Pennsylvania State University at Shippensberg, whose pioneering journal "Maps" was among the first to attempt a useful overview of Zukofsky's work and legacy. Taggart, said Creeley, "is also a remarkable poet and student of Zukofsky's legacy."

€ Burton Hatlen, professor and editor of the journal Sagetrieb at the University of Maine. Hatlen has long been engaged in the study of Zukofsky's work and has hosted important annual conferences on primary American poetic elders. He will participate with Taggart and UB Professor Joseph Conte in a panel discussion of Zukofsky's work from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday, April 25, in the Poetry/Rare Books Room, 420 Capen Hall, North (Amherst) Campus.

€ Zukofsky's son, eminent violinist and conductor Paul Zukofsky, also will participate. He is immediate past director of the Arnold Schoenberg Institute at the University of Southern California and in the 1960s was in residence at UB as part of the Department of Music's Creative Associates Program.

He will join Zukofsky's biographer, Ira Nadel, professor at the University of British Columbia, and poet Mark Scroggins in a panel discussion from 2:30-4:30 p.m. on Friday, April 25, in the Poetry/Rare Books Room. Nadel is the author of a recent biography of Leonard Cohen.

Scroggins, assistant professor at Florida Atlantic University, is the author of essays on Zukofsky and other contemporary poets and of the book "Louis Zukofsky and the Poetry of Knowledge."

€ University of Auckland scholar Michele Leggott, author of "Reading Zukofsky's '80 Flowers'" (Johns Hopkins Press, 1989) will be in residence at UB during the month of April. She will participate in the conference and will conduct a seminar on Zukofsky's work this semester. Those interested in attending the seminar may call 645-3810. Among those who will meet with the seminar is Jenny Penberthy of the University of British Columbia, whose book "Niedecker and the Correspondence with Zukofsky, 1931-1970" is an important contribution to the scholarship on both poets.

Legott will join Creeley and Stephen Fredman in a panel discussion from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 26, in the Poetry/Rare Books Room.

Fredman, professor of English at the University of Notre Dame and author of "Poet's Prose," among other works, is working on a study of Zukofsky's longtime friend and fellow poet, Charles Reznikoff.

Creeley will host a reception at his home for conference participants that evening.

In addition, the conference will feature a recital by the outstanding Estonian-Canadian new music composer Udo Kasemets, who will perform a work he composed on Zukofsky's poem, "80 Flowers." The recital will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, April 25, in Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, Tri-Main Center, 2495 Main St.

The conference sponsors are the Poetics Program, the Department of English, the David Gray Chair of Poetry, the Samuel P. Capen Chair of Poetry and the Humanities, and the UB Poetry/Rare Books Collection, which will be primary venue for the action.

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