Alfred Kreymborg

United States
Alfred Kreymborg
United States


Alfred Francis Kreymborg (December 10, 1883 – August 14, 1966) was an American poet, novelist, playwright, literary editor and anthologist.

He was born in New York City to Hermann and Louisa Kreymborg, who ran a small cigar store, and he spent most of his life there and in New Jersey. He was an active figure in Greenwich Village and frequented the Liberal Club.

He was the first literary figure to be included in Alfred Stieglitz's 291 circle, and was briefly associated with the Ferrer Center where Man Ray was studying under Robert Henri. From 1913 to 1914, Kreymborg and Man Ray worked together to bring out ten issues of the first of Kreymborg's prominent modernist magazines: The Glebe. Ezra Pound — who had heard about The Glebe from Kreymborg's friend John Cournos — sent Kreymborg the manuscript of Des Imagistes in the summer of 1913 and this famous first anthology of Imagism was published as the fifth issue of The Glebe

In 1913 Man Ray and Samuel Halpert, another of Henri's students, started an artist's colony in Ridgefield, New Jersey. This colony was often also referred to as 'Grantwood' and comprised a number of clapboard shacks on a bluff. Kreymborg moved to Ridgefield and launched Others: A Magazine of the New Verse with Skipwith Cannell, Wallace Stevens, and William Carlos Williams in 1915. Pound had, along with the Des Imagistes poems, written to Kreymborg suggesting that he contact 'old Bull' Williams, that is William Carlos Williams. Williams did not live far from Ridgefield, and he became involved in the magazine. Soon there was a group of artists associated with the magazine. Marianne Moore came to Ridgefield for picnics, and in 1915 Marcel Duchamp moved in. Regarding Marianne Moore, she was asked in an interview whether Alfred Kreymborg was her American discoverer, to which she replied, "It could be said, perhaps; he did all he could to promote me. Miss Monroe and the Aldingtons had asked me simultaneously to contribute to Poetry and The Egoist in 1915. Alfred Kreymborg was not inhibited. I was a little different from the others. He thought that I might pass as a novelty, I guess."

1915 also saw the publication of a story in part based on a personal experience. The story was titled 'Edna' and published as Edna: The Girl of the Street; by the Greenwich Village entrepreneur Guido Bruno; the subtitle was Bruno's idea, added without the consent of the author.John Sumner of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice raised a stir; there was a court case which led to the Bruno's imprisonment. The attendant morals row drew in George Bernard Shaw and Frank Harris: Harris made an impassioned statement in court defending the publisher.

The cover of the first edition of Kreyborg's Mushrooms (1916): a book of free verse tone-poemsKreymborg was life-long friends with Carl Sandburg, each independently choosing to write in free verse. Kreymborg's tone-poems, or 'mushrooms', had seldom made it into print, but in 1916, soon after his move to Ridgefield they were brought out in book form by John Marshall as 'Mushrooms: A Book of Free Forms' and Williams praised them as a "triumph for America".

Kreymborg spent a year touring the United States, mostly visiting universities, reading his poetry while accompanying himself on a mandolute.
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