Zachary Rogow

b. 1952

Current City, State, Country

Berkeley, California, USA

Birth City, State, Country

New York, New York, USA


Zack Rogow is the author, editor, or translator of more than twenty books or plays. His ninth book of poems, Irreverent Litanies, was published by Regal House. His previous collections include Talking with the Radio: poems inspired by jazz and popular music (Kattywompus Press), and The Number Before Infinity (Scarlet Tanager Books). Rogow is also writing a series of plays about authors. The most recent of these, Colette Uncensored, had its first staged reading at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC; ran in London, Indonesia, Catalonia, San Francisco, and Portland. Rogow has also authored a hybrid memoir about his father, the writer Lee Rogow (Spuyten Duyvil Publishing). His translations of French literature include two books by Colette, Shipwrecked on a Traffic Island and Other Previously Untranslated Gems, and the novel Green Wheat; as well as works by André Breton, George Sand, and Marcel Pagnol. Rogow’s blog, Advice for Writers, features more than 275 posts on topics of interest to writers. He has received the PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize, the Northern California Book Reviewers Award in Translation, and the Celestine Award for Poetry. He serves as a contributing editor of Catamaran Literary Reader and as dramaturg for the Yiddish Theatre Ensemble.

What is the relationship between Judaism and/or Jewish culture and your poetry?

The English I learned as a child was very much shaped by the syntax and musicality of the Yiddish my mother knew. She was fluent in the mammeloshen—the mother tongue—but she only spoke it when experiencing a heightened emotion, such as joy, tenderness, or exasperation. Yiddish-infused English often has a word order that is the reverse of Anglo-Saxon diction: “She bakes a mean kugel, Sylvia.” That way of talking often sneaks into my writing. The other very Jewish influences on my poetry from my childhood were the lyrics of the American Songbook ballads that the adults played on LPs while they sipped their martinis and smoked unfiltered cigarettes. So many of those great lyricists were Jewish: Lorenz Hart, Oscar Hammerstein II, Dorothy Fields, Yip Harburg—the list goes on and on. Their words, so full of wit, heart, and heartbreak, were the psalms of my secular Jewish upbringing. The combination of pathos and humor that infused the stories told around the dinner table are also part of the Yiddishkeit that is the soul of my poetry. It wasn’t until much later in life that I found out about the Hebrew side of being Jewish, and the deep spiritual traditions of Judaism. Now that influence, too, flavors my poetry.

Published Works

Irreverent Litanies  (Regal House Publishing, 2019)
Talking with the Radio: poems inspired by jazz and popular music (Kattywompus Press, 2015)
My Mother and the Ceiling Dancers (Kattywompus Press, 2012)
The Number Before Infinity (Scarlet Tanager Books, 2008)
The Selfsame Planet (Mayapple Books, 1999)

Bérénice 34-44 by Isabelle Stibbe; Co-translator Renée Morel (Peter Lang Publishers, 2019)
Shipwrecked on a Traffic Island and Other Previously Untranslated Gems by Colette; Co-translator Renée Morel (SUNY Press, 2014)
Co-translated French-language letters of President John Adams for Papers of John Adams, Volumes 14–16 (Harvard University Press, 2009–11)
Marius by Marcel Pagnol; premiered Fall 2005 at Aurora Theatre
Green Wheat by Colette (Sarabande Books, 2004)
Earthlight by André Breton; co-translated from the French (Sun and Moon Press, 1993. Reprinted by Green Integer, 2004)
Horace by George Sand (Mercury House, 1995)
Arcanum 17 by André Breton (Sun and Moon Press, 1994. Reprinted by Green Integer, 2004)

Edited Anthologies
The Face of Poetry; anthology of contemporary American poetry (University of California Press, 2005)

Author Site

Links to Sample Works

Video Reading

Current Title

Freelance writer and editor


City College, City University of New York, M.A., English: English with Creative Writing
Yale University, B.A., English, Cum Laude

Languages of Publication(s) and Poets Translated

French: André Breton, Joyce Mansour, Paul Éluard, Léopold Sédar Senghor, Charles Baudelaire; Italian: Umberto Saba, Giovanni Raboni, Vivian Lamarque; Portuguese: Florbela Espanca, Mia Couto

Subject Matter