Kenneth Koch

Kenneth Koch Biography

an American poet, playwright, and professor, active from the 1950s until his death at age 77. He was a prominent poet of the New York School of poetry, a loose group of poets including Frank O'Hara and John Ashbery that eschewed contemporary introspective poetry in favor of an exuberant, cosmopolitan style that drew major inspiration from travel, painting, and music.

Kenneth Koch was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on February 27, 1925. He studied at Harvard University, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree, and attended Columbia University for his Ph.D.

Many critics found Koch's early work obscure, such as Poems (1953), and the epic Ko, or A Season on Earth (1959), yet remarked upon his subsequent writing for its clarity, lyricism, and humor, such as in The Art of Love (1975), which was praised as a graceful, humorous book. His other collections of poetry include New Addresses (Alfred A. Knopf, 2000), winner of the Phi Beta Kappa Poetry Award and a finalist for the National Book Award; Straits (1998); One Train and On the Great Atlantic Rainway, Selected Poems 1950-1988 (both published in 1994), which together earned him the Bollingen Prize in 1995; Seasons of the Earth (1987); On the Edge (1986); Days and Nights (1982); The Burning Mystery of Anna in 1951 (1979); The Duplications (1977); The Pleasures of Peace (1969); When the Sun Tries to Go On (1969); Thank You (1962); and Seasons on Earth (1960).

Koch's short plays, many of them produced off- and off-off-Broadway, are collected in The Gold Standard: A Book of Plays. He has also published Making Your Own Days: The Pleasures of Reading and Writing Poetry (Scribners, 1998); The Red Robins (1975), a novel; Hotel Lambosa and Other Stories(1993). Koch wrote the libretto for composer Marcello Panni's The Banquet, which premiered in Bremen in June 1998, and his collaborations with painters have been the subject of exhibitions at the Ipswich Museum in England and the De Nagy Gallery in New York. His numerous honors include the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry, awarded by the Library of Congress in 1996, as well as awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Fulbright, Guggenheim, and Ingram-Merrill foundations. In 1996 he was inducted as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Kenneth Koch lived in New York City, where he was professor of English at Columbia University. Koch died on July 6, 2002 from leukemia.

The Best Poem Of Kenneth Koch

The Boiling Water

A serious moment for the water is
when it boils
And though one usually regards it
merely as a convenience
To have the boiling water
available for bath or table
Occasionally there is someone
around who understands
The importance of this moment
for the water—maybe a saint,
Maybe a poet, maybe a crazy
man, or just someone
temporarily disturbed
With his mind 'floating'in a
sense, away from his deepest
Personal concerns to more
'unreal' things...

A serious moment for the island
is when its trees
Begin to give it shade, and
another is when the ocean
washes
Big heavy things against its side.
One walks around and looks at
the island
But not really at it, at what is on
it, and one thinks,
It must be serious, even, to be this
island, at all, here.
Since it is lying here exposed to
the whole sea. All its
Moments might be serious. It is
serious, in such windy weather,
to be a sail
Or an open window, or a feather
flying in the street...

Seriousness, how often I have
thought of seriousness
And how little I have understood
it, except this: serious is urgent
And it has to do with change. You
say to the water,
It's not necessary to boil now,
and you turn it off. It stops
Fidgeting. And starts to cool. You
put your hand in it
And say, The water isn't serious
any more. It has the potential,
However—that urgency to give
off bubbles, to
Change itself to steam. And the
wind,
When it becomes part of a
hurricane, blowing up the
beach
And the sand dunes can't keep it
away.
Fainting is one sign of
seriousness, crying is another.
Shuddering all over is another
one.

A serious moment for the
telephone is when it rings.
And a person answers, it is
Angelica, or is it you.

A serious moment for the fly is
when its wings
Are moving, and a serious
moment for the duck
Is when it swims, when it first
touches water, then spreads
Its smile upon the water...

A serious moment for the match
is when it burst into flame...

Serious for me that I met you, and
serious for you
That you met me, and that we do
not know
If we will ever be close to anyone
again. Serious the recognition
of the probability
That we will, although time
stretches terribly in
between...

Kenneth Koch Comments

HI 17 May 2022

MOMMY

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Jacob L. 29 January 2018

he died in 2002. how are these published in these years by him? ? ?

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