"For the last thirty years or more, Kenneth Koch has been writing the most exuberant poems in America. In an arena where such good spirits are rare, he has become a national treasure. In his book of personal addresses to what has mattered most in his seventy-plus years on the planet, there is a dimension of pathos and joy rare in the poetry of any era." —National Book Award (2000) finalist citation for New Addresses
The three long poems -- “Bel Canto,” “Possible World,” and “A Memoir” -- in this brilliant successor to New Addresses are ambitious attempts at rendering the complete story of a life. Taken together they present a dazzling picture of the pleasures and confusions of existence, as well as the pleasures and difficulties of expressing them.
Other poems bring Koch’s questioning, lyrical attention to more particular aspects of experience, real and imagined—a shipboard meeting, the Moor not taken, or the unknowable realm of mountaintops. As in all of Koch’s work, one hears the music of unconquerable exuberance in stormy conflict with whatever resists it—death, the injustice of power, the vagaries of life in Thailand, China, or Rome.
Thomas Disch has written in the Boston Book Review that “Koch is the most capable technician on the American scene, the brightest wit, and the emeritus most likely to persist into the next millennium . . . His work is full of ribaldry and wit, musicianship, pitch-perfect mimicry of the Great Tradition, and the celebration of pleasure for its own sunlit sake.”
The ebullience and stylistic variety that one has come to expect of this protean poet is everywhere present in this scintillating collection.
About the Author
Kenneth Koch published many volumes of poetry, most recently New Addresses and Straights. His short plays, many of them produced off- and off-off-Broadway, are collected in The Gold Standard: A Book of Plays and One Thousand Avant-Garde Plays. He also write several books about poetry, including Wishes, Lies, and Dreams; Rose, Where Did You Get That Red?; and Making Your Own Days: The Pleasures of Reading and Writing Poetry. He was a winner of the Bollingen Prize (1995), the Bobbitt Library of Congress Poetry Prize (2006), a finalist for the National Book Award (2000), and winner of the first annual Phi Beta Kappa Award for Poetry (2001). Kenneth Koch lived with his wife, Karen, in New York City and taught at Columbia University. He died in 2002.