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Alfred Kreymborg

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Alfred Kreymborg
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Alfred Kreymborg was born on December 10, 1883, in New York City. The son of a cigar-store owner, he attended public school in Manhattan and became a chess phenomenon by the age of ten. Along with chess, he was very interested in music, and his desire to compose eventually led him to writing.

He began writing poetry in his late teens and soon became an active figure in the Greenwich Village literary circles. The first writer to be involved with Alfred Stieglitz’s 291 gallery, he joined forces with the avant-garde photographer Man Ray in 1913 to create The Glebe, a Modernist journal that published writers such as H. D., Ezra Pound, and William Carlos Williams. When Man Ray started an artist’s colony in Ridgefield, New Jersey, that same year, Kreymborg joined. From Ridgefield, he founded Others: A Magazine of the New Verse with Skipwith Cannell, Wallace Stevens, and William Carlos Williams in 1915.

Also in 1915, Guido Bruno published Kreymborg’s first work, Edna: The Girl of the Street (Bruno’s Weekly), a fictional account of an encounter with a prostitute. This publication led to Bruno’s arrest on obscenity charges and attracted wider literary attention for Kreymborg.

His first book of poetry, Mushrooms: A Book of Free Forms (John Marshall, 1916), established him as one of the early adopters of free verse. He went on to author over a dozen more poetry collections, including The Selected Poems, 1912­–1944 (E. P. Dutton, 1945) and No More War and Other Poems (Bookman Associates, 1950). In addition, he published an autobiography, Troubadour (Boni and Liveright, 1925), as well as several puppet and radio plays, most famously Lima Beans (S. French, 1925).  He also wrote Our Singing Strength: An Outline of American Poetry, 1620-1930 (Coward-McCann, 1929), a history of American poetry that provides valuable insight into the Modernist circles.

Kreymborg also edited the prominent Modernist magazine Broom, An International Magazine of the Arts and founded the anthology series American Caravan with Paul Rosenfeld. He died on August 14, 1966.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry
No More War and Other Poems (Bookman Associates, 1950)
The Selected Poems, 1912–1944 (E. P. Dutton, 1945)
Mushrooms: A Book of Free Forms (John Marshall, 1916)

Prose
Troubadour (Boni and Liveright, 1925)
Our Singing Strength: An Outline of American Poetry, 16201930 (Coward-McCann, 1929)

by this poet

poem

The sky
is that beautiful old parchment
in which the sun
and the moon
keep their diary.
To read it all,
one must be a linguist
more learned than Father Wisdom;
and a visionary
more clairvoyant than Mother Dream.
But to feel it,
one must be an apostle:
one

poem
Who
would decry
instruments—
when grasses
ever so fragile,
provide strings
stout enough for
insect moods
to glide up and down
in glissandos
of toes along wires
or finger-tips on zithers—
   though
   the mere sounds
   be theirs, not ours—
   theirs, not ours,
   the first inspiration—
   discord 
   without
poem
There has been
Another death.
This time
I bring it to you.
You are kind,
Brutal,
You know
How to lower 
Bodies.
I ask only
That the rope
Isn't silk,
(Silk doesn't break)
Nor thread,
(Thread does.)
If it lifts
And lowers
Common things,
It will do.