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Born in February 27, 1925 / Died in July 6, 2002 / United States / English

Quotes by Kenneth Koch

When you finish a poem, it clicks shut like the top of a jewel box, but prose is endless. I haven't experienced an awful lot of clicking shut!
Picasso said once when being interviewed that one should not be one's own connoisseur.
I was influenced by surrealist poetry and painting as were thousands of other people, and it seems to me to have become a part of the way I write, but it's not.
I simply was ignoring the fact that The Waste Land indeed made it seem to many poets that one had to be depressed-not that The Waste Land is a bad poem, it's a wonderful poem-that one had to feel despair, that one had to think that the modern world was terrible.
As for political poetry, as it's usually defined, it seems there's very little good political poetry.
Maybe there are three or four really good poets in a generation.
It takes a long time to publish a book.
I mean, there are excesses all over the place. People are always saying what are the different schools of American poetry.
I also have travelled in Africa, so there are about seven or eight stories about Africa. I've also been to China, so there are five or six stories about China, and some about Mexico. I was a little surprised after I'd completed the book to see how many took place in other countries.
Some people who write about poetry seem to have had trouble with my poetry because it is sometimes comic. I don't think the nature of my poetry is satirical or even ironic, I think it's essentially lyrical, but again I don't know if it's my position to say what my poetry is like.
Some of the French surrealists at the beginning of the war had come over to New York and they brought out this magazine. It was a big, glossy magazine full of surrealist things.
As I understand the surrealist program, it was programmatically in favour of the unconscious as opposed to the conscious; programmatically in favour of chance, even programmatically in favour of a certain kind of violence and all that dream stuff.
As charming as old people are, one doesn't want to have a 75-year-old baby. One wants to make something new.
Of course, I like Byron enormously; I'm crazy about Don Juan. And of course Keats and Shelley and I suppose everyone that everyone likes.
There was a certain amount of humour in all our work... Maybe you can almost characterise the poetry of the New York School as having as one of its main subjects the fullness and richness of life and the richness of possibility and excitement and happiness.
I think my poetry was very influenced-it seems almost dumb to say it-but it was very influenced by Shakespeare. Very early on I read his plays... and, I don't know, I started speaking in blank verse at a rather early age.
I got married, other people went off. We had sort of another public-we were our entire readership for many years, and we were very excited by each other.
Once I start writing about something, it goes off rather fast, and sometimes details which might be interesting such as what the room looked like or what somebody said that was not exactly on the same subject tend to get lost.
I've had trouble with criticism, I guess. It's hard to know what role criticism plays in either encouraging poets or in getting other people to read them.
I never thought of myself as a New York poet or as an American poet.
I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. My family was not nationally known as being a literary family, though my mother and my mother's side of the family in general were interested in literature.
I took a course at Harvard with Delmore Schwartz, a writing course, and there were about 30 of us... I don't really see vast movements full of wonderful poets all over the place.
As I look over my work, I mean every time I look over my early work, I see, yes, I could do that then and then I could do that and that... That may be the hardest thing for a writer, at least for a poet, to tell what the identity of his work is.
Also, I liked John Cage's music. I liked it for its craziness, the use of silence, the boldness-anything to get me away from writing about... I don't know what academic poets write about.
It's a well known thing that ordinary perceptions can have a strange aspect when one is travelling.