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Kenneth Koch (1925 - 2002)

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  • Kenneth Koch is grouped with John Ashbery, Frank O'Hara and James Schuyler, a grouping which tends to underplay the real differences between each poet's projects; their collaborations were inventive because of their differences, not their similarities, and what marks all four is the ability to work at tangents without ever quite abandoning the circumference. Koch started writing when he was five, under the influence of Shelley, whom he outgrew in his teens, taking doses of Byron and eventually of Eliot. As a soldier in the Philippines, he kept himself sane by playing in language, making lines to make life's unbearables absurd. He studied at Harvard with Delmore Schwartz, and Ashbery and O'Hara were classmates. His prose memoirs, plays and poems have an abundance and a formal variety unparalleled in American writing. His Selected Poems and One Train are published in the United Kingdom by Carcanet.
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