Gathered together for the first time, the exciting, startling early work of one of our finest poets. Writing as a young man in the 1950s, Koch, a member of the now famed New York School along with John Ashbery, Larry Rivers, Frank O’Hara, and others, experimented with the delicate balance between sound and sense to offer a series of poems resembling music or abstract painting. For example, he opens the title poem with: “Bananas, piers, limericks / I am postures / Over there, I, are / The lakes of delectation / Sea, sea you!” Also included are a selection of short plays in verse and Koch’s innovative masterpiece, “When the Sun Tries to Go On,” a poem that “produces a radical reworking of the life-poem myth predominant in American poetics since ‘Song of Myself’” (William Watkins, In the Process of Poetry). About “When the Sun Tries to Go On,” David Lehman wrote, “Koch takes a great deal of delight in the sounds of words and his consciousness of them; he splashes them like paint on a page with enthusiastic puns, internal rhymes, titles of books, names of friends, and seems surprised as we are at the often witty outcome” (Poetry, 1968). When the poems in Sun Out were originally published, they set a standard for the freshness and surprise of language used in extraordinary ways. For almost five decades they have delighted readers lucky enough to find them. It is our pleasure to make them once again available in this new and provocative collection.
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.