Kenneth Koch, in the words of editor Ron Padgett, wrote poetry that became a part of “the mystery and pleasure of being alive.” A center of the New York School, he gained notoriety by mocking the stodginess and academicism of much mid-century verse. This enthralling selection encompasses the full range of Koch’s poetry, and includes such already classic works as “Fresh Air” (his devastatingly satirical assault on mid-1950s poetic conformism), “The Pleasure of Peace” (with its defiant assertion that “One single piece of pink mint chewing gum contains more pleasures / Than the whole rude gallery of war!”), “The Art of Poetry,” his astonishing and light-footed survey of the aims and methods of poetry, and poems from the late collection New Addresses, including “To World War Two,” “To Psychoanalysis,” and “To the French Language.” A poet at once directly accessible and deeply mysterious, Kenneth Koch was the master of an art of surprise in which the world is constantly reimagined.
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.