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A Useful Art
Essays and Radio Scripts on American Design
Louis Zukofsky; Kenneth Sherwood, ed.; Kenneth Sherwood, intro.; John Taggart, afterword

The Wesleyan Centennial Edition of the Complete Critical Writings of Louis Zukofsky

2003 • 264 pp. 8 illus. 6 x 9"
Poetry Criticism / Art Criticism

$24.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-6640-9

Writings on American craft and poetry.

A Useful Art is an invaluable chronicle of a major American poet’s engagement with this country’s indigenous tradition of design. In 1936, the Federal Arts Project (a division of the WPA) hired Louis Zukofsky, along with many others, to prepare a compendium of information on traditional American crafts. The Index of American Design aimed to define original U.S. culture at a time when interest in handicrafts had just begun to emerge. These previously unpublished essays and radio scripts are scrupulously researched investigations of various American handicrafts: the topics they cover include ironwork, tin ware, furniture maker Duncan Phyfe and friendship quilts. They also reflect Zukofsky’s sense of the poem as a crafted object and his attempt to reconcile the labor theory of value with aesthetic production. This book, which can be seen in the context of kindred work by William Carlos William (In the American Grain) and Ezra Pound (Guide to Kulchur), will be of special interest to readers of 20th-century poetry, cultural critics, social historians, and scholars of design.

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Reviews / Endorsements

“This final volume in the series expands the basic design of this major poet’s work very usefully.” —Robert Creeley, author of Just in Time: Poems 1984-1994

“Zukofsky knew his designers (Russel and Mary Wright were friends) and his poetry is the most carefully crafted body of work in 20th-century American writing. Zukofsky’s Index of American Design writings—quirky, informative, engaging, and engaged—cast crucial light on his poetry, and bear comparison with such anomalous, omnivorous works as Mallarmé’s Les Mots Anglais, Duchamp’s catalogue of the Société Anonyme, Benjamin’s Arcades Project, and Ruskin’s Fors Clavigera.”Mark Scroggins, author of Louis Zukofsky and the Poetry of Knowledge

LOUIS ZUKOFSKY (1904-1978) is widely considered one of the primary forerunners of contemporary avant-garde writing. His many books include “A,” Prepositions +, and A Test of Poetry. KENNETH SHERWOOD is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Texas at the Permian Basin. JOHN TAGGART is Professor Emeritus of Literature and Creative Writing at Shippensberg State University, and the author of When the Saints (2000).

Mon, 18 Jun 2018 11:52:29 -0500