Ninety-fifth Street

Ninety-fifth Street

by John Koethe


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A Harper Perennial paperback original, Ninety-fifth Street is a beautiful new collection of poems by John Koethe, acclaimed by poet Edward Hirsch as an heir to Wallace Stevens. In this, his eighth book of poems, Koethe, the author of North Point North and Falling Water, offers readers the reflections of a poet in mid-life, an “aging child of 62,” passionately engaged with the world yet drawn to meditate on memory, time, and the mysteries of human existence.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061768231
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/08/2009
Pages: 96
Sales rank: 1,210,101
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.30(d)

About the Author

John Koethe is distinguished professor of philosophy emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the first Poet Laureate of Milwaukee. His collections include Falling Water, which won the Kingsley-Tufts Award, North Point North, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and Ninety-fifth Street, winner of the Lenore Marshall Prize. In 2011, he received a Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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Ninety-fifth Street 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
rmckeown on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The annual Beall Poetry Festival at Baylor University has become an event I eagerly await as each spring rolls around. This year was no exception, despite the fact I had only the slightest familiarity with only one of the three poets, Carol Frost. However, the poet that impressed and inspired me the most was John Koethe.His poems tell stories, in plain language, with gentle strokes of humor, pathos, and intelligence -- all with profound insights into human nature and the creative mind. I even found an epithet for my own thesis, which Prof. Koethe enthusiastically gave me permission to use.The epithet comes from the opening lines of the title poem of Ninety-Fifth Street. Koethe wrote,¿Words can bang around in your headForever, if you let them and you give them room.I used to love poetry, and mostly I still do, Though sometimes `I, too, dislike it.¿ There mustbe something real beyond the fiddle and perfunctoryConsolations and the quarrels -- as of courseThere is, though what it is is difficult to say.¿ (72)I was thrilled to recognize the interior quote as the words of Marianne Moore, the eccentric 20th century poet, editor, librarian, and teacher. Her apartment was moved from New York City -- following her death in 1972 -- and reassembled at the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia. So, I have a close personal connection to her work.Like Moore, Koethe¿s poetry is simple, yet profound with wit and irony. He tells stories and -- in the telling -- reveals philosophy and the inner workings of the human psyche.Furthermore, a measure of irony lay in my selection of this epithet. To paraphrase Koethe, ¿I used to hate poetry, but now I mostly love it, although some I still dislike.¿The title poem from Sally¿s Hair is a good example of the story-telling talent of Koethe. He writes,¿I took the train back from Poughkeepsie to New YorkAnd in the Port Authority, there at the Suburban Transit window,She asked, `Is this the bus to Princeton?¿ -- which it was.`Do you know Geoffrey Love?¿ I said I did. She had the blondest hair,Which fell across her shoulders, and a dress of almost phosphorescent blue.She liked Ayn Rand. We went to the Village for a drink, Where I contrived to miss the last bus to New Jersey, and at 3 a.m. weWalked around and found a cheap motel I hadn¿t enough money forAnd fooled around on the dilapidated couch. An early morning bus(She¿d come to see her brother), dinner plans and missed connectionsAnd a message on his door about the Jersey shore. Next dayA summer dormitory room, my roommates gone: `Are you,¿ she asked,`A hedonist?¿ I guessed so. Then she had to catch her plane.Sally -- Sally Roche. She called that night from Florida,And I never heard from her again¿¿ (69-70)Hearing the poet read this poem impressed me with the power of his words, and his voice reinforced the story-telling nature of his work. I can only begin to hope to write something as touching, sincere, and emotional in my own workLastly, a poignant piece from North Point North, ¿The Little Boy.¿¿I want to stay here awhile, now that there came to meThis other version of what passes in my life for time.The little boy is in his sandbox. Mom and DadAre puttering around in the backyard.¿ (116)I have to stop here, because memories of my own childhood are welling up inside, and I have gone on long enough. If these three samples don¿t tempt you, you have not discovered the depth, the breath, the beauty of well-crafted poetry. 15 stars -- 5 each!--Jim, 4/3/10