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Charles Reznikoff Biography

(1894–1976), Rhythms, Uriel Acosta, Chatterton, The Black Death, and Meriwether Lewis

york poet poetry jewish

American poet, born in Brooklyn, New York, educated at the School of Journalism of the University of Missouri and at New York University, where he gained his LL.B. in 1915. His early publications as a poet include Rhythms (1918), Uriel Acosta (1921), and the verse-dramas of Chatterton, The Black Death, and Meriwether Lewis (1922). The terse compression of his mature style emerged in Five Groups of Verse (1927). In 1932 his poetry was featured in Louis Zukofsky's An ‘Objectivists’ Anthology; the concrete precision of his imagery and his emphatic exclusion of metaphorical and rhetorical effects exemplify the tenets of Objectivist poetry. Among his other collections are In Memoriam (1934), Separate Way (1936), and Inscriptions (1959), in which an increasing concern with Jewish culture is evident. Testimony: The United States (1885–1915) (3 volumes, 1965, 1968, 1979) forms a social history compiled entirely from law reports. Materials from the Nuremberg trials form the basis of Holocaust (1975), in which his habitually factual tone is harrowingly effective in presenting documentary details of genocide. Seamus Cooney's complete edition of Reznikoff's poems appeared in two volumes in 1978. By the Waters of Manhattan (1930), the first of Reznikoff's novels, fuses his love for New York with his elegiac sense of exile from the central traditions of Judaism. In the historical novel The Lionhearted (1944) he recreates the experience of the Jewish communities in medieval England. The Manner Music (1977) is a fictionalized account of his efforts to continue writing in the midst of discouragement in the 1930s, the period covered in the composite biography of members of his family in Family Chronicle (1963).

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