Alfred Kreymborg was born in New York City in December of 1883. His parents, Hermann and Louisa Kreymborg, managed a cigar store. It was in New Jersey, and within the confines of the cigar store, that Kreymborg spent most of his childhood. By the time he was ten years old he was known as a master chess player, a sport on which he would later write the article, ‘Chess Reclaims a Devotee.’ Before experimenting with poetry, he tried out both the mandolin and piano. It was this early experience with music and composition that led the young Kreymborg to delve into poetry.
It was in his late teens that he began to devote his time to writing, and before long he was well known in the literary circles of Greenwich Village. He was the first writer to become involved with Stieglitz’s 291 gallery, and he worked alongside photography Man Ray to create The Glebe. This publication was known to publish modernist writers such as William Carlos Williams and Ezra Pound.
In 1915, he founded Others: A Magazine of the New Verse, alongside two of his fellow writers. It was in this same year that his first book, Enda: The Girl of the Street, was published. It was a fictional work which described an encounter with a prostitute. The work was not received well and the publisher of the volume, Guido Bruno, was arrested on charges of obscenity. This only garnered a wider audience for the book.
Kreymborg’s first book of poetry, Musrooms: A Book of Free Forms, was released a year later, in 1916, and solidified his reputation as one of the first writers utilizing free verse. Kreymborg produced more than 12 volumes of poetry as well as an autobiography titled, Troubadour. Some of his most popular volumes of poetry included: The Selected Poems,1912-1944 and No More War and Other Poems, published in 1950.
Kreymborg was also known to work as a playwright, crafting both puppet and radio plays. One of the best known of his dramatic works is Lime Beans, released in 1925. Before his death in August of 1966, Kreymborg worked as the editor of the Modernist publication Broom, An International Magazine of the Arts. He is also remembered as the founder of the anthology series, American Caravan with Paul Rosenfeld.
Today Kreymborg is a relatively obscure poet who is mostly remembered for his forward thinking experimentation with form and avant-garde associations.