Saturday, July 01, 2006

From Joe Brainard to Donald Hall

Ron Padgett's recent tribute to Joe Brainard (it was on June 24 in Vermont) kept us all smiling, enjoying Joe's knack for capturing on paper the silly or provocative things we all thin about but rarely capture: things Joe nailed in his classic "I Remember" series of poems. I brought with me a copy of the memorial tribute to John Myers, of Tibor De Nagy Gallery, so I could ask Ron whether it was true that John Myers had "named" the New York School of Poetry (as a parallel to the NY School of Art). Yes, said Ron, who also noted that the NY School of Art was itself named to parallel the Paris version. Then Ron mentioned, "Funny that it was called the New York School of Poetry, because it really formed at Cambridge" -- that is, at Harvard, where Kenneth Koch, John Ashbery, Frank O'Hara, and Robert Bly were all in residence. Myers would soon see the potential for pairing poets with artists, a brilliant stroke. Padgett told me the Big Names, as students, connected through the Harvard Advocate.
Hmm, I asked, wasn't Donald Hall (next US poet laureate) also at the Advocate -- but maybe that was later?
Not much later, and there was certainly an overlap, Padgett confirmed, although Don Hall was a bit younger, in his recollection. But: and this is a big one: Padgett commented that at the time, Hall was enamored of Robert Frost's writing, so deeply that Koch, Ashbery, and O'Hara, who were cutting different turf, didn't want to hang out much with Hall.
What an image of this group as undergrads! I'm still pondering it. By the way, James (Jimmy) Schuyler, also significant in what John Myers pulled together in New York, seems to have been a bit later arriving. Anyone care to add details?

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