Koch, Kenneth

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Koch, Kenneth

Kenneth Koch (Kenneth Jay Koch) (kōk), 1925–2002, American poet, novelist, and playwright, b. Cincinnati. After studying at Harvard and Columbia he was associated with the Artist's Theatre, Locus Solus magazine, and, along with friends John Ashbery, Frank O'Hara, and James Schuyler, the so-called New York school of poets. Combining modernism, lyricism, and humor, Koch's "antisymbolic" poetic style is characterized by witty juxtapositions and dislocations of words. His roughly 30 volumes of verse include Poems (1953), Days and Nights (1982), New Addresses (2000), and two posthumously published books released in 2002, Sun Out, poems from the early 1950s, and A Possible World, his final collection. A volume of his Collected Poems was published in 2005. Among Koch's other works are the plays Bertha (1966), The Burning Mystery of Anna in 1951 (1979), The Red Robins (1980), and The Gold Standard (1996). A professor at Columbia for nearly 40 years, he also wrote several books about teaching the writing and appreciation of poetry, particularly to children and the elderly. These works include Wishes, Lies, and Dreams (1970), Rose, Where Did You Get That Red? (1973), I Never Told Anybody (1977), and Making Your Own Days (1998).

See D. Lehman, The Last Avant-Garde: The Making of the New York School of Poets (1999); G. Ward, Statutes of Liberty: The New York School of Poets (2d ed. 2001).

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