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Mac Low, Jackson 1922-2004

Mac LOW, Jackson 1922-2004


See index for CA sketch: Born September 12, 1922, in Chicago, IL; died of complications from a stroke December 8, 2004, in New York, NY. Editor, poet, composer, and author. Mac Low was an avant-garde poet whose works celebrated randomness. Completing an associate's degree at the University of Chicago in 1941 and a bachelor's degree at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York in 1958, he was initially interested in music and theater. A founding member of the theater group Fluxus during the 1950s he began to gain attention as a rising star among the avant-garde poets of the time. Such pursuits were not extremely lucrative, of course, so Mac Low also worked as an editor for various publishers, including Funk & Wagnalls, Standard Reference Works, and Alfred A. Knopf. He was also poetry editor of the periodical Why?, which later became Resistance, from 1950 until 1954. On the staff of WIN magazine from 1966 until 1975, he simultaneously worked as an instructor at New York University. By the late 1970s, he was doing well enough as an artist to live primarily off his income as a poet and performance artist, only occasionally lecturing at universities around the country. As an artist, Mac Low created poems that were meant to be read aloud, often to musical accompaniment. He was intrigued by randomness, desiring to free language and sound bites from the strictures of grammar and the sentence. To do this, he employed various means, such as rolling dice, shuffling index cards, or using computer programs to create randomness in his compositions. His verses would sometimes be read by more than one performer, and lines could even be read at different rates of speed. Publishing numerous collections from the 1960s through the 1990s, Mac Low's books include Manifestos (1966), Twenty-one Matched Asymmetries (1976), Antic Quatrains (1980), Representative Works, 1938-1985 (1986), and Barnesbook: Four Poems Derived from Sentences by Djuna Barnes (1996). Mac Low also published a CD-ROM, Open Secrets, in 1993, and was the author of over a dozen plays.



Los Angeles Times, December 10, 2004, p. B9.

New York Times, December 10, 2004, p. C11.

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