by Kenneth Koch


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Kenneth Koch continues to expand the range of what is possible to do in poetry. His title poem is a stirring collection of disconnected and connected sentences on such themes as love, politics, and the exploration of sub-polar seas. "Vous etes plus beaux que vous ne pensiez" is a series of bright, rapid sketches of the lives of ten artists and writers. Writing in a variant of the style of the eighteenth-century poet James Thomson, Koch revives an old genre—praise of the seasons—with his own characteristic mixture of clarity and sensuous excitement. A group of twenty-five poems called "Songs from the Plays" creates a new genre: songs written for plays that don't exist but from which plays might be imagined or constructed. "My Olivetti Speaks" is perhaps Koch's clearest and wittiest meditation on the nature of poetry itself. The themes of time and change in individual lives are given an unusual look in "Study of Time" and the Villon-like "Ballade."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375701337
Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/11/2000
Pages: 104
Product dimensions: 6.21(w) x 9.23(h) x 0.42(d)

About the Author

Kenneth Koch has published many volumes of poetry, including New Addresses,  Straits and One Train. He was awarded the Bollingen Prize for Poetry in 1995, in 1996 he received the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry awarded by the Library of Congress, and he received the first Phi Beta Kappa Poetry award in November of 2001. His short plays, many of them produced off- and off-off-Broadway, are collected in The Gold Standard: A Book of Plays. He has also written several books about poetry, including Wishes, Lies, and Dreams; Rose, Where Did You Get That Red?; and, most recently, Making Your Own Days: The Pleasures of Reading and Writing Poetry. He taught undergraduates at Columbia University for many years. He passed away in 2002.

Read an Excerpt

"You want a social life, with friends"

You want a social life, with friends,
A passionate love life and as well
To work hard every day. What's true
Is of these three you may have two
And two can pay you dividends
But never may have three.

There isn't time enough, my friends--
Though dawn begins, yet midnight ends--
To find the time to have love, work, and friends.
Michelangelo had feeling
For Vittoria and the Ceiling
But did he go to parties at day's end?

Homer nightly went to banquets
Wrote all day but had no lockets
Bright with pictures of his Girl.
I know one who loves and parties
And has done so since his thirties
But writes hardly a thing at all.

Table of Contents

The Human Sacrament3
Vous Etes Plus Beaux Que Vous Ne Pensiez13
Study of Time23
My Olivetti Speaks28
Artificial Intelligence38
The True Story of the Mule45
The Promenade of the Ghostly Subtitles47
The Seasons48
Songs from the Plays67

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