Fellow: Awarded 2008
Field of Study: Poetry
Competition: US & Canada
Bill Zavatsky was born in 1943 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He holds B.A. and M.F.A degrees from Columbia University, and has lived in New York since 1965. He has taught on all levels of education since 1971, but since the fall of 1987 his home base has been the 9th, 10th, and 12th grades at the Trinity School in New York City, where he teaches English, creative writing, and film courses.
In the seventies and eighties, Mr. Zavatsky directed the publication efforts of SUN, an independent literary press, bringing out thirty-five titles as well as several issues of SUN magazine and a two-shot specialty publication called Roy Rogers. He is the author of two books of poems, Where X Marks the Spot and Theories of Rain and Other Poems, two volumes of translation (Valery Larbaud and André Breton), and has published his work in many magazines and in anthologies, including The Face of Poetry, Up Late: American Poetry Since 1970, and The Jazz Poetry Anthology. His poems have served as liner notes for recordings by jazz pianists Bill Evans and Marc Copland. He himself has been a musician since childhood and specializes in jazz piano and the blues.
The translation that he did with Zack Rogow of the Breton volume Earthlight won the PEN/Book-of-the Month Translation Prize in 1993. He has also written extensively on creative writing since he began teaching in 1971, including articles on Ramon Gomez de la Serna, Walt Whitman, and William Carlos Williams. With Ron Padgett, he co-edited a major anthology of creative writing and art ideas called The Whole Word Catalogue 2. A revised translation (with Ron Padgett) of The Poems of A.O. Barnabooth by Valery Larbaud was republished in 2008.
Mr. Zavatsky has read his work widely over the years, from Los Angeles to Cape Cod, from the Museum of Modern Art to the "Lunch Poems” series at the University of California at Berkeley. He has received grants in poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts. In 2007 and in 2008 he received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, which also named him the MacDowell Poet for 2007-2008.