American Translators: Louis Zukofsky

December 18, 2020

By Nancy Kuhl

Louis Zukofsky

The son of immigrants from what is now Lithuania, Louis Zukofsky was born in 1904 in New York. He spoke Yiddish at home and learned English only when he went to public school. As a poet, editor, and theorist, he became an important influence on post-War American poets in particular. Zukofsky began corresponding with Ezra Pound in the late twenties, and Pound became an ardent supporter of his work; he also encouraged the editors of Poetry magazine to have Zukofsky edit a special edition of the journal devoted to the informal group of poets that he called the “Objectivists.” The name stuck, and today he is known as one of the founders and key members of the group along with George Oppen, Charles Reznikoff, and Carl Rakosi. As a translator he is best known for his radical homophonic versions of Catullus’s poems. Archival Materials at Yale


Louis Zukofsky, “Catullus LXV,” ca. 1964 (VIEW)
Call Number: YCAL MSS MISC, GRP 115 Item F-3 (request)

Guy Davenport, Review of Zukofsky’s translations of Catullus (VIEW)
Call Number: GEN MSS 87, Box 9, folder 600 (request)

Ezra Pound, “Catullus: Carmine LXI” (VIEW)
Call Number: YCAL MSS 43, Box 138, 6074 (request)


Letters to William Carlos Williams (VIEW)
NOTE: April 2 28; June 7 1928, encl. Catullus translations (non-homophonic)
Call Number: YCAL MSS 116, Box 27, folders 839-840

Ezra Pound Letters to Louis Zukofsky (from the Ezra Pound Miscellany)

31 Aug 1928 and 26 Nov 1928 (VIEW)
YCAL MSS 182, Box 3, 72 (request)

25 Nov 1929 (VIEW)
YCAL MSS 182, Box 3, 73 (request)

8 Nov 1930 (VIEW)
YCAL MSS 182, Box 3, 76 (request)

30 Jan 1931 and 23 Jun 1931 (VIEW)
YCAL MSS 182, Box 3, 77 (request)

27 Dec 1931 (VIEW)
YCAL MSS 182, Box 3, 78 (request)

16 Aug 1932 (VIEW)
YCAL MSS 182, Box 3, 79 (request)

The Functions of Criticism and 6 Feb 1940 (VIEW)
YCAL MSS 182, Box 3, 80 (request)

Ezra Pound Letters from Louis Zukofsky (from the Erza Pound Papers)

Correspondence 1927-1964 (VIEW)
YCAL MSS 43, Box 57, folder 2594-2616

Mary Barnard | Robert Fitzgerald | Langston Hughes

Ezra Pound | Dudley Fitts

The Practice of Literary Translation: Resources