29 dic. 2008


*The Burning Mystery of Anna in 1951. 1979. 81 pp.

I still have the hard-bound first edition I bought when the book came out or shortly after. I was about to embark on a career as a literary critic. It strikes me now how ill prepared any academic training was to read something like this. Not because it was difficult reading--though "Reflections on Morocco" was puzzling on many levels--but because there wasn't a clear thing to "do" to such a text. He isn't interested in difficulty, ambiguity, or hidden meanings. How radical is that? It's not something that you could apply the literary methods of the day to. Deconstruction? I don't think so. I did try to find an adequate way of talking about this kind of poetry. Gilbert Sorrentino was probably the only professor at Stanford then who thought it was even possible to write about Kenneth Koch. I did in fact write a paper using some material from "Reflections on Morocco," in particular, for Sorrentino.

I still love the jacket design by Larry Rivers, and "The Boiling Water" and "The Problem of Anxiety." Some of the shorter poems in the book are not quite as memorable. The title poem and "For Marina" have stuck with me, and another poem about Kenneth returning from Europe and trying unsuccessfully to communicate his sense of excitement to his other friends, like Frank O'Hara, who seem to view him in a slightly condescending light. It's kind of a follow up to the mode of The "The Circus" in his previous collection, The Art of Love.


I'm trying to get a ways through the third percent before the year is out. 9 books is a tenth of a percent of the total, so if I geet close to 198 I'll be on the road to 270.

3 comentarios:

Jordan dijo...

"Fate." Schuyler loosed his scorn on 1951 in one long poem or another, I think at about the same time he faint-praised Kenneth as able to teach a golfball how to write pantoums. As a baby poet I mentioned the cite to Kenneth, who took it well and claimed not to remember it. (Not unlike the time I asked Tony Towle about Frank O'Hara praising him -- ow, oops, um. The wages of belatedness.)

Gary dijo...

I love this book. I stole the poem "The Problem of Anxiety" for my own poem, the title of which escapes me, but which is published in How to Proceed. It is so obviously a rip-off!

John dijo...

I really like the idea of baby poetry. People just learning to talk have fascinating relationships with syntax, vocabulary, and pronunciation.

You're not belated, Jordan. You're just in time.