Thursday, February 01, 2007

Abundance = Kenneth Koch

No, it's not "new math" -- but it's a simple equivalence. Kenneth Koch, who died in 2002, was one of our most prolific authors, turning out 20 pages or more each day and amassing an archive at the New York Public Library that has set records for its size, and maybe for its variety, too. Best known as a poet, he was also a gifted teacher who in turn taught others his insights for "how to teach poetry" (Wishes, Lies, and Dreams: Teaching Children to Write Poetry, 1970; on the title page the authors are actually listed as "Kevin Koch and The Students of P.S. [that's Public School, for you non-city folk) 61 in New York City"). In addition, he wrote fiction, drew cartoons, and more.

Despite his death, it's now clear that the abundance of Koch's life continues well beyond his passing. In 2005, the threesome who make up his literary estate -- his wife Karen Koch, poet Ron Padgett, and Koch's editor, assistant, and also poet Jordan Davis -- brought out The Collected Fiction of Kenneth Koch (Coffee House Press). The team also assisted in the publication of The Collected Poems of Kenneth Koch in fall 2005. This year, it sees release in softcover.
Moreover, Padgett is the editor for the upcoming April release of Kenneth Koch: Selected Poems (from the Library of America, American Poets Project).

But this IS, after all, one of American's most abundant poets we're talking about. So Ron told me this week that there's a FOURTH book coming in fall 2007: On the Edge: Collected Long Poems, a companion to the other collected poems volume.

I'm clearing a larger shelf. Meanwhile, watch for Ron's related events, of which we're glad to announce the following, already scheduled:

February 1: Emory University, Atlanta
February 20: Double Change series, Le Point Ephémere, Paris
April 11: Beinecke Library, Yale University, New Haven
April 26: Lecture on Kenneth Koch and Frank O'Hara, Milwaukee Library, Milwaukee
April 27: Reading at Woodland Pattern, Milwaukee

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