poem index

A Brief Guide to the Objectivists

Year

2004
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The designation "Objectivist" was made in 1931 when Louis Zukofsky edited the February issue of Poetry: A Magazine of Verse at the urging of Ezra Pound. The magazine contained the work of Zukofsky himself, Charles Reznikoff, Carl Rakosi, George Oppen, Basil Bunting, William Carlos Williams, Kenneth Rexroth, and many lesser-known poets. The name came about because of Harriet Monroe's (the then-editor of Poetry) request for a group title. As is often the case, the group name was more a matter of convenience to describe the poets' connections to one another than it was a consciously set forward program.

Zukofsky describes the founding of Objectivism in Prepositions: The Collected Critical Essays of Louis Zukofsky:

"When I was a kid I started the Objectivist movement in poetry. There were a few poets who felt sympathetic towards each other and Harriet Monroe at the time insisted, we'd better have a title for it, call it something. I said, I don't want to. She insisted; so, I said, alright, if I can define it in an essay, and I used two words, sincerity and objectification, and I was sorry immediately. But it's gone down into the history books; they forgot the founder, thank heavens, and kept the terms, and, of course, I said objectivist, and they said objectivism and that makes all the difference. Well, that was pretty bad, so then I spent the next thirty years trying to make it simple."