Bill Zavatsky

Bill Zavatsky. Courtesy Jazzwax.

Bill Zavatsky (born 1943) is an American poet, journalist, jazz pianist, and translator.[1]


Zavatsky was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut.[1]

Zavatsky grew up in a working-class family in Bridgeport, Connecticut. His father was a mechanic who owned a garage. Zavatsky was the 1st member of his family to graduate from a 4-year college.

He earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Columbia University. Between the ages of 15 and 25, he studied music at The New School and worked as a jazz pianist.[1]

Besides writing and publishing original poetry, Zavatsky also excels as a translator of poetry. His work in this area has included English versions of works by André Breton, Valery Larbaud, Robert Desnos, and Ramón Gómez de la Serna.

Zavatsky's journalism has appeared in The New York Times Book Review and Rolling Stone. He was editor-in-chief of SUN press and SUN magazine.

He has taught workshops for Teachers & Writers Collaborative, Long Island University, and University of Texas-Austin.[1] For many years he taught English at Trinity School in New York City, where his students frequently won creative writing awards. His cotranslation of André Breton's Earthlight received the International PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize.[2]

His artistic influences include jazz pianist Bill Evans, whom Zavatsky got to know late in the musician's career. Zavatsky has eloquently eulogized Evans, both in the liner notes to his albums, and in his poem "Live at the Village Vanguard."

Zavatsky lives in New York City.[3] [4]


Zavatsky could be described as a 2nd-generation New York School poet, influenced by such writers as Frank O'Hara and Kenneth Koch. (Koch was his professor at Columbia University.) In addition to the wry humor typical of the New York School, Zavatsky adds to his poetry an emotional poignancy that gives it additional depth.




  • Roy Rogers: One-line poems. New York: privately published, 1974.
  • Theories of Rain, and other poems. New York: Sun, 1975.
  • Auto Junkyard Elegy. Providence, RI: Hellcoal Press, 1976.
  • For Steve Royal, and other poems. New York: Coalition of Publishers for Employment, 1985.
  • Where X Marks the Spot. Brooklyn, NY: Hanging Loose Press, 2006.


  • Valéry Larbaud, The Poems of A.O. Barnabooth (translated with Ron Padgett). Tokyo: Mushinsha, 1977.
  • André Breton, Earthlight (translated with Zack Rogow). Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 1993.


  • Life without Parole: Being a one-shot anthology of poetry. New York: Poetry Project of St. Mark's Church, 1976.
  • The Whole Word Catalogue 2 (edited with Ron Padgett). New York & London: McGraw-Hill, 1977.
Bill Zavatsky - Pre Poetry Reading Blues - Green Drake Gallery

Bill Zavatsky - Pre Poetry Reading Blues - Green Drake Gallery

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[6]

See alsoEdit



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Bill Zavatsky, Academy of American Poets,, Feb. 12, 2012.
  2. Where X Marks the Spot Hanging Loose Press: Brooklyn, New York (2006)
  6. Search results = au:Bill Zavatsky, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, May 3, 2015.

External linksEdit

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