A Lost Poem by Kenneth Koch

Kenneth Koch, August 1978. Photo credit: Katherine Koch.

The current issue of Poetry magazine has a great special feature devoted to a newly-discovered, unfinished poem by Kenneth Koch.  In a brief accompanying essay, Kate Farrell, who lived with Koch for several years in the 1970s and edited several books with him, explains the very personal and moving circumstances of this remarkable poem’s genesis, as well as the reasons why it never became part of the Koch canon.  As Farrell tells it, Koch wrote the poem in 1978, just as their relationship was foundering:

In July 1978, Kenneth Koch sent me his new poem “At the Ramp, ovvero Alla Rampa” — or “Alla Rampa” as he referred to it in the letter that accompanied it. After living together for several years in New York and elsewhere, Kenneth and I and my two children (the “babies” mentioned mid-letter) had spent that spring in Rome, where he was teaching Italian schoolchildren to write poetry. In June, I’d returned with the kids to New York for a trial separation which later that summer became permanent … Rediscovering “Alla Rampa” in my files a few years ago, I was struck by what a good poem it was — however unfinished. The Rome-drenched verve and charm of the letter that arrived with it was another surprise, bringing the moment of the poem’s writing to life.

After discussing the contents of the letter and giving some context for the poem and its musings on “time, love, loss, poetry,” Farrell explains what eventually happened to the poem:

The letter containing “Alla Rampa” was delayed in the mail, and the arrival of the poem just as we were breaking up muted the pleasure of reading it. I filed it away for my upcoming move, and I don’t think we ever discussed it. Luckily our friendship and collaborations continued: I remained his writing assistant for years afterward and we coauthored two books about reading and writing poetry.

Paul Celan’s idea of a poem as “a message in a bottle” seems to me especially apropos of “At the Ramp, ovvero Alla Rampa.” Not just a matter of how it showed up, redolent of another time, but of its letter-like tone, the vivid sense it gives of Kenneth at his Olivetti, the present-tense allegro of the endless search intact.

In addition to Farrell’s piece, the Poetry feature also includes a facsimile of the letter Koch sent to Farrell enclosing the poem, and the poem itself.

First page of “At the Ramp, overro Alla Rampa” by Kenneth Koch

Koch’s “At the Ramp, ovvero Alla Rampa,” unfinished or not, is a fascinating and moving poem, a welcome and exciting addition to Koch’s body of work.  With its disarming meditation on the poet’s own earlier writing, its anxious struggle to locate the self who had written those poems, it immediately calls to mind one of Koch’s finest works, “The Circus,” which he’d published a few years earlier:

Reading my own work to get some new inspiration
I found someone who resembled me who had gone away.
He had just gone a moment ago, in fact,
Since what I was reading was something I had just written.
Yes, now that this exists in time, I thought,
It is no longer the truth I am always looking for…

Consumed (like “The Circus”) by the problem of “our existence in time,” the poem meanders and ruminates, circling around “the discrepancy between thought and 
experience,” gnawing on questions of change and loss.  It ends:

Now, this person — I had better sum up — this one who is always different
Is also, since he is I myself, always the same.
He went last night to the restaurant and he wrote the poem
In which there was someone who was not quite completely himself.
He is writing this poem, and thinking, Oh, you’re not going to like me
Because I talk about changing so much and don’t stay on the subject
Of how much I love you and how I care so much more about this
Than about everything in the restaurant magnified to infinity, and the whole sky
And all the music, and he knows that the awareness of this feeling
Will pass, but the feeling — well, I don’t think that ever will, unless I die.

The emergence of this lost poem (as well as the facsimiles of the letter and poem, the great photos, and the essay that accompany it) is a treat for fans and scholars of Koch and the New York School, and contemporary poetry more broadly.  For more on the poem and the story behind it, the check out Poetry magazine’s monthly podcast, in which editors Don Share and Lindsay Garbutt talk with Kate Farrell herself.

Posted in Kenneth Koch, Poems

John Ashbery remembers Tomaž Šalamun

Tomaž Šalamun

Back in December, I posted about the unfortunate passing of the Slovenian poet Tomaž Šalamun, and his deep connections to the New York School.  The current Artforum gathers a number of brief tributes to Šalamun, including the following from John Ashbery:

I knew Tomaž Šalamun over a long time, but saw him relatively briefly on widely spaced occasions. Each time he came to New York we would get together for a little blast of Slovenian mirth and Sloveno-American poetry. And then he would be gone, leaving me with the illusion that a close friend had just come and left on another brilliant voyage. He seemed to be at home everywhere. Perhaps even Ljubljana, which to my regret I have never seen. They say it’s beautiful and sophisticated and yet obscure and off-the-radar, terms that might also apply to Tomaž and his crackling poetry.

Posted in John Ashbery, Tomaz Šalamun

The New York School, and more, in Louisville

I’ve just gotten back from the very fun and stimulating Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture since 1900 (directed by the esteemed poetry scholar Alan Golding) which, this year at least, amply demonstrated that scholarly work devoted to the poets of the New York School and their contemporaries is alive and well.  If nothing else, learning what other scholars and poets are talking about such conferences can give one a snapshot of the state of the conversation in a particular field.

There were a number of panels and papers devoted to the New York School, including a panel organized by Ben Lee, about “Rethinking Ekphrasis and the New York School.” It featured Brian Glavey giving a talk drawn from his book on “queer ekphrasis” in twentieth-century poetry (forthcoming from Oxford University Press), in which he argued that John Ashbery gives an unusual twist to the long ekphrastic tradition, since Ashbery’s celebrated poems about visual art are as much about not looking (or looking away) as they are about gazing at an artwork.  Susan Rosenbaum‘s paper (also related to her forthcoming book on surrealism and American poetry) uncovered a fascinating little-known film made by Daisy Aldan (editor of Folder and an important early ally to the New York School poets) titled Once Upon an El, which featured short cameos by O’Hara, Ashbery, Grace Hartigan and other poets and painters.  Mark Silverberg, author of The New York School Poets and the Radical Avant-Garde, took up a series of poems by Bob Holman that were inspired by Van Gogh, and argued that Holman turns ekphrasis into a more public, external, and performative mode.

A second panel on the New York School was devoted to figures from the movement’s so-called “second generation.”  It featured Grant Matthew Jenkins calling for greater critical attention to the work of Ron Padgett, Greg Kinzer using object-oriented ontology to explore the disorienting and unusual way Joseph Ceravolo represents things in his poems, and Robert Zamsky analyzing disobedience and elegy in Alice Notley’s middle-period poetry.

There was also a third New York School panel, this one organized by Robert Archambeau. For this panel, I contributed a talk that argued that Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground can be read as a surprising and under-recognized example of the New York School’s influence, giving some special attention to the remarkable issue of the magazine Intransit that Gerard Malanga edited in 1968 (which I’ve mentioned before) — a huge anthology that brought together poems by many New York School figures with written works by Warhol and other members of his “Factory,” as well as rock musicians like Reed, John Cale, and Nico.  Robert Archambeau‘s own paper re-situated Ashbery’s early work firmly within the art world of the 1950s, in a talk drawn from his forthcoming book on aestheticism and 20th century poetry.  John Gallaher expanded on his recent edition of the poems of Michael Benedikt (which I posted about here) with a talk about Benedikt’s poetry, his work as an editor, and his role within and outside of the New York School.

There were also interesting and compelling papers on cosmopolitanism and the New York School (Gregory Hazleton), the 1963 Vancouver Poetry Conference (Andy Meyer), on Charles Olson’s notion of polis (Paul Jaussen), the relationship between American and Canadian poets of the 1950s and 1960s (Zane Koss), and the correspondence of Robert Creeley and Robert Duncan (Joshua Hoeynck).  Plus a panel on “After Objectivism” in which Bob Perelman gave “a short history of punctuation in American poetry” and Hank Lazer delved into John Taggart’s poetry (and several other Objectivist panels that I wasn’t able to attend).

The conference also featured poetry readings by Joseph Lease (which, unfortunately, I wasn’t there in time to see), Tracie Morris, Fred Moten, Joseph Donahue, and Stephen Paul Miller, and an incendiary critical keynote talk by Fred Moten, and a great deal more.

I’m not sure if this is exactly what Angela Ball had in mind with the phrase “New York School diaspora,” but after spending 3 days in the middle of Kentucky talking about the New York School, discussing its legacy, and hearing lots of poetry written in its wake, I’d say it just might be.


Posted in Alice Notley, Andy Warhol, Conferences and Talks, Daisy Aldan, Gerard Malanga, Joe Ceravolo, John Ashbery, Lou Reed, Michael Benedikt, Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, Velvet Underground, Visual Art

Mayakovsky, Frank O’Hara, and the “Intimate Yell”

A major new biography of the great Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893-1930), who served as such a powerful influence on Frank O’Hara, Kenneth Koch, and other poets of the New York School, has recently appeared.  Written by Bengt Jangfeldt, a Swedish biographer, the book explores Mayakovsky’s short and stormy life and vibrant poetry, which played out against the dramatic backdrop of the Russian Revolution.

Mayakovsky was one of O’Hara’s favorite poets, and his distinctive voice and style profoundly influenced O’Hara’s own.  As John Ashbery once noted, it was from Mayakovsky that O’Hara “picked up what James Schuyler has called ‘the intimate yell.'” O’Hara was so taken with the Russian poet’s dynamic energy and epic sweep that he dedicated “Second Avenue,” one of his most ambitious and experimental early poems, to Mayakovsky.  Years later, he would write one of his most beloved (and recently controversial) poems, “A True Account of Talking to the Sun at Fire Island,” as an homage and response to one of Mayakovsky’s poems.

In “Notes on Second Avenue,” O’Hara explained his poem’s debt to both Mayakovsky and Willem de Kooning: “Where Mayakovsky and de Kooning come in, is that they both have done works as big as cities where the life in the work is autonomous (not about actual city life) and yet similar: Mayakovsky: ‘Lenin,’ ‘150,000,000,’ ‘Eiffel Tower,’ etc.; de Kooning: ‘Asheville, ‘Excavation,’ ‘Gansevoort Street,’ etc.”

In an insightful review in the Telegraph of the new biography, Jeremy Noel-Tod thankfully connects Mayakovsky to O’Hara, the poet who did so much to bring the Russian writer to the attention of readers of American poetry:

“When I woke up Mayakovsky/ he was a lot more prompt,” complains the sun to the American poet Frank O’Hara in his poem “A True Account of Talking to the Sun on Fire Island”. The less-than-prompt O’Hara draws an ironic contrast between his own poetic persona – a Fifties New York aesthete who dashed out verse during his lunch breaks – and Mayakovsky, the whirlwind Russian who composed grandiose, sprawling poems about revolution, romantic love, the Soviet Union and himself.

The 1920 poem in which Mayakovsky “gossiped” with the sun is described by Bengt Jangfeldt, his Swedish biographer, as “a much-needed break from the poetic emergency service he had devoted himself to since the outbreak of the First World War”. Mayakovsky contained at least two poets. One was the intensely individual, avant-garde visionary who burst into genius with the early poem “A Cloud in Trousers”. The other was the patriotic, Left-wing agitator who willingly put his talent for rhyme and wordplay to the service of the rapidly collectivising Russian state.

Noel-Tod praises “Jangfeldt’s pioneering account” of Mayakovsky’s life and works as “an authoritative volume” which “does much sympathetic justice to a catastrophic personality who fascinated Soviet Russia.”  He concludes by discussing the poet’s tragic end:

Mayakovsky survived the purges and expulsions of the Twenties, and wrote his longest poem on the death of Lenin. But eventually his mercurial position overwhelmed him, and in 1930 he shot himself. Five years later, Stalin canonised the “iron poet”, resulting in what Boris Pasternak called his “second death”: monolithic assimilation by the state. It was this fate that Frank O’Hara alluded in his poem “Mayakovsky”, which speaks through the poet’s ghost: “Now I am quietly waiting for/ the catastrophe of my personality/ to seem beautiful again,/ and interesting, and modern.”

The O’Hara poem that Noel-Tod is referring to — exponentially more famous now that it was recently intoned by Don Draper on the television show Mad Men – may indeed contain an allusion to Mayakovsky’s assimilation by the Soviet state.  However, the unusual story behind why O’Hara gave the title “Mayakovsky” to that poem is worth mentioning and may point to a slightly less direct connection to the Russian poet’s work: James Schuyler once explained that the poem only came about because Schuyler found two poems that O’Hara had forgotten about folded in a book, and suggested he splice them together with two other short poems to create a four-part work.  Schuyler recalled that O’Hara “liked the result and said that since it was ‘my’ poem I had to think up a title — which I easily and instantly did — Frank had (again) been reading Mayakovsky and the book was on his desk.”

It was a canny move on Schuyler’s part, as O’Hara’s tormented poem of heartbreak and existential crisis wonderfully channels Mayakovsky’s “intimate yell” and merges it with his own inimitable sensibility.  Here, then, is O’Hara’s 1954 poem “Mayakovsky“:

My heart’s aflutter!
I am standing in the bath tub
crying. Mother, mother
who am I? If he
will just come back once
and kiss me on the face
his coarse hair brush
my temple, it’s throbbing!

then I can put on my clothes
I guess, and walk the streets.

I love you. I love you,
but I’m turning to my verses
and my heart is closing
like a fist.

Words! be
sick as I am sick, swoon,
roll back your eyes, a pool,

and I’ll stare down
at my wounded beauty
which at best is only a talent
for poetry.

Cannot please, cannot charm or win
what a poet!
and the clear water is thick

with bloody blows on its head.
I embrace a cloud,
but when I soared
it rained.

That’s funny! there’s blood on my chest
oh yes, I’ve been carrying bricks
what a funny place to rupture!
and now it is raining on the ailanthus
as I step out onto the window ledge
the tracks below me are smoky and
glistening with a passion for running
I leap into the leaves, green like the sea

Now I am quietly waiting for
the catastrophe of my personality
to seem beautiful again,
and interesting, and modern.

The country is grey and
brown and white in trees,
snows and skies of laughter
always diminishing, less funny
not just darker, not just grey.

It may be the coldest day of
the year, what does he think of
that? I mean, what do I? And if I do,
perhaps I am myself again.

The University of Chicago Press has posted an excerpt from Mayakovsky: A Biography here, and you can find more information about the book here, including this high praise from Marjorie Perloff: “Bengt Jangfeldt’s prize-winning Mayakovsky, first published in Sweden, gives a beautifully detailed portrait of the period as well as the individual life … A real page turner, copiously illustrated and well translated, this biography is essential reading not only for students of modernist poetry but for anyone interested in the relationship of literature to life in the former Soviet Union.”

Fortunately, Jangfeldt’s Mayakovsky: A Biography will bring some renewed and welcome attention to one of the most important influences on Frank O’Hara and the New York School of poets.


Posted in Book Review, Frank O'Hara, Influences on the NY School, James Schuyler, Marjorie Perloff, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Willem de Kooning

Edwin Denby and the New York School: A Reading for Edwin Denby at the Poetry Project

On Wednesday, February 11, the Poetry Project at St. Marks in New York will host “Dancers, Buildings, and People: A Reading for Edwin Denby,” a tribute for Edwin Denby (1903-1983), the poet and dance critic who was such an important figure for the New York School.  As usual, the Poetry Project has assembled an all-star cast of readers for the event:

With Jacob Burckhardt, Bill Berkson, Vincent Katz, Anne Waldman, Yvonne Jacquette Burckhardt, Anselm Berrigan, Ron Padgett, Mimi Gross, Eileen Myles, Yoshiko Chuma, Claudia La Rocco & Emmanuel Iduma. We’ll screen Rudy Burckhardt’s film “Remembering Edwin Denby” after the readings.

The event’s title is taken from a collection of Denby’s writings on dance, which includes a brief, appreciative, and incisive introduction by Frank O’Hara, who was very close with Denby for many years.

At the conclusion of his preface, O’Hara offers Denby some of his highest praise: “Somehow, he gives an equation in which attention equals Life, or is its only evidence, and this is turn gives each essay, whatever the occasional nature of its subject, a larger applicability we seldom find elsewhere in contemporary criticism.”

(I like this passage so much that I’ve swiped O’Hara’s phrase “attention equals Life” for the title of my next book).

Although Denby frequently appears in discussions of the New York School, scholars have provided few extended treatments of his poetry or his role as a pivotal figure in this coterie.  One exception to this general neglect can be found in the opening section of the new book New York School Painters and Poets, written by Jenni Quilter and edited by Allison Power, which (as I recently noted) makes the case that Denby, alongside Rudy Burckhardt and Willem de Kooning, “really set the proverbial stage for the first and second generations and remained steady figures in the New York School circles.”

Another exception is “Edwin Denby’s New York School,” an excellent and thorough essay by Mary Maxwell that appeared in the Yale Review in 2007.  Maxwell traces Denby’s large but under-recognized role as a foundational New York School figure, his collaborations with Rudy Burckhardt, his inventive sonnets, his influence on poets like O’Hara, Ted Berrigan, Alice Notley, Ron Padgett, and Jim Carroll, and much more. Maxwell writes:

“In his lifelong engagement with the subject of the city, he, like O’Hara, is a true New York poet. Not only is In Public, in Private the first volume of poems published by a poet of the New York School, there is an argument to be made that with more complete documentation of Denby’s relations with O’Hara’s circle, in addition to his position as a point of reference in the New York art world before, during, and after the heyday of the New York School of painting, the whole idea of ‘‘New York School Poet’’ (of any vintage) is meaningful only relative to the vocation of Edwin Denby.

You can find a copy of Maxwell’s essay here.   For more on the Poetry Project event in honor of Denby, see here.


Posted in Alice Notley, Anne Waldman, Bill Berkson, Edwin Denby, Eileen Myles, Frank O'Hara, Jim Carroll, Poetry Project at St. Marks, Ron Padgett, Rudy Burkhardt

Thornton Wilder and Frank O’Hara: A New Discovery and a Footnote


Thornton Wilder, 1947

Karin Roffman, who is completing an eagerly-awaited biography of the young John Ashbery, posted a very interesting piece yesterday on Stylus, the blog for the Woodberry Poetry Room at Harvard.  Roffman writes about an incident that occurred in 1951 at the inaugural event of the Poets’ Theatre in Cambridge, involving the playwright Thornton Wilder and Frank O’Hara.

During the course of an evening of one-act plays that included the premiere of Frank O’Hara’s Try! Try! (starring John Ashbery in the role of “John”) and plays by Ashbery and Richard Eberhart, Wilder — who was already a renowned, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright at the time — shocked the audience by launching into an extended rant.   As Roffman notes, Wilder’s disruptive speech has been discussed in various places over the years, including in Brad Gooch’s biography of O’Hara, City Poet, and has even “become part of the lore of the period.”

But what actually happened?  What did Wilder actually say?  Roffman points out that “since that memorable evening, myth and fact have quietly merged in retellings.”  Well, we now have a much better sense of what Wilder actually said, thanks to a serendipitous find in the archive:

Last October, Christina Davis, the imaginative and disciplined curator of the Woodberry Poetry Room, made an amazing discovery: the original recording of an unscripted rant by playwright Thornton Wilder about the current state of drama and poetry, which he delivered spontaneously to a captive audience of theatergoers… 

As Roffman notes, people who were at the event seem to have quite varied memories of Wilder’s rant, its content, its tone, and even its length: “In one interview I did a few years ago for my biography of John Ashbery’s early life, a former Harvard student present that night told me that Wilder’s ‘kind of crazy’ rant lasted ‘nearly twenty minutes.'”  She also quotes from Nora Sayre’s “The Poets’ Theatre: A Memoir of the Fifties”:

During the Poets’ very first evening, in 1951, the spectators laughed freely at the comic juxtaposition of images in [Frank] O’Hara’s one-act play Try! Try!. Thornton Wilder, who was a visiting lecturer that year, leaped to his feet at intermission and scolded them: how dared they laugh? How could they fail to appreciate the vitality of “the new creative dramatic poetry in America?” Pacing to and fro while shaking his finger at his listeners, he lectured them until even the smiles were suppressed. Then he asked for contributions for the Theatre.

Roffman goes on to note what the newly-discovered recording reveals:

In the fall, Christina and I listened repeatedly to Wilder’s impromptu speech, the existence of which both corrects and complicates the existing record of the evening, though several words are difficult to hear due to Wilder’s impassioned delivery. First, the “nearly twenty-minute” rant actually lasted only three minutes and seven seconds. Second, despite the feelings against it reported by individual members of the audience, it received thunderous applause. Third, the speech occurred not at intermission but after O’Hara’s play (the third of four plays performed that evening). Fourth, while Wilder reacted to the audience’s laughter at O’Hara’s very witty, though also very sad, play (reprinted in Amorous Nightmares of Delay), his speech suggested he was more excited by the play than upset by the laughter.

As Roffman explains, Wilder did not simply chide the audience for laughing at the play; he also urged them “to recognize that the play they just witnessed was full of ‘very remarkable things.’ ‘Wish him well…do what we can for him,’ he concluded. He fully championed the young poet and his play, suggesting in his encomium that he and O’Hara shared a wonderful vision for the future of American theatre.”

Previous versions of this story have mistakenly downplayed Wilder’s enthusiasm for the play, and for O’Hara as a young writer, Roffman argues.  “In fact, the audio record shows that Wilder loved O’Hara’s play, championed its language and spirit, and saw the two of them as moving forward contemporary American theater jointly.”

This is a wonderful and interesting find.  Since Roffman concludes by asking: “Do memories, strong feelings and sensations about an event offer a true account of what Wilder really meant to say or does this audio record correct the record?”  I thought it  might be useful to add a footnote to what Roffman and Davis have uncovered.

There is one other account of this evening and Wilder’s behavior, and it is not one filtered through the mist of time and memory.  As I wrote about in 2013, Daniel Ellsberg, who would later become famous as the whistleblower who released the Pentagon Papers, was an undergraduate at Harvard at the time and published a review of the Poets’ Theatre’s inaugural event in the Harvard Crimson.  In the piece, Ellsberg wrote critically of what he witnessed that night:

One event marred the evening for some. Thornton Wilder, after an appeal for funds, lectured the audience vehemently on its ‘bad performance’ during the O’Hara play, at which it had laughed loudly (and which got an extra curtain call). I think Mr. Wilder misjudged both the play and the audience’s response; if so, his action was regrettable.

And, to add one more point of view to the mix, Brad Gooch relays that Richard Wilbur, who was also present, recalls that “Archie MacLeish, who was seated next to me and had given a number of guffaws, muttered to me ‘I think Thornton’s gone a little off his trolley.”

Now, in addition to the various perspectives of those who were present, we have this remarkable opportunity to hear what Wilder actually said on that evening in February 1951, as it is now posted here, on the Woodberry Poetry Room blog.  Had Wilder “gone a little off his trolley”?  You be the judge.

Ellsberg on Poets Theatre

Ellsberg’s review, as reproduced in Amorous Nightmares of Delay: Selected Plays of Frank O’Hara



Posted in Frank O'Hara, John Ashbery, Thornton Wilder

50th Anniversary All-Star Reading of Frank O’Hara’s Lunch Poems in San Francisco

Just when you thought the hoopla surrounding the 50th anniversary of Frank O’Hara’s Lunch Poems had died down, here comes another terrific sounding event that will again celebrate City Lights Books’ new edition of O’Hara’s 1964 volume.

The evening is billed as a “50th Anniversary All-Star Reading,” and it will be held on Friday, February 6th, in San Francisco.  It will feature this amazing cast of readers:

• Kathleen Fraser, “Music”
• Crystal Sasaki & Alana Siegel, “Alma”
• Kit Robinson, “On Rachmaninoff’s Birthday”
• Clark Coolidge, “Poem (I watched an armory combing its bronze bricks)”
• Laura Moriarty, “On the Way to the San Remo”
• Paul Hoover, “2 Poems from the Ohara Monogatari”
• Hilton Obenzinger, “A Step Away from Them”
• Richard O. Moore, “Cambridge”
• Elaine Katzenberger, “Poem (Instant coffee with slightly sour cream)”
• Elaine Kahn, “Three Airs”
• Garrett Caples, “Image of the Buddha Preaching”
• Alan Bernheimer, “Song (Is it dirty)”
• David Meltzer, “The Day Lady Died”
• Patrick Marks, “Poem (Wouldn’t it be funny)”
• Brent Cunningham, “Poem (Krushchev is coming on the right day!)”
• Mac McGinnes, “Naptha”
• George Albon, “Personal Poem”
• Norma Cole, “Adieu to Norman, Bon Jour to Joan and Jean-Paul”
• Bill Berkson, “Rhapsody”
• Donald Guravich, “Hôtel Particulier”
• Alli Warren, “Cornkind”
• Beverly Dahlen, “How to Get There”
• Ted Reese, “A Little Travel Diary”
• Joanne Kyger, “Five Poems”
• Michael Palmer, “Ave Maria”
• Jim Nisbet, “Pistachio Tree at Château Noir”
• Evan Kennedy, “At Kamin’s Dance Bookshop”
• C.S. Giscombe, “Steps”
• Cedar Sigo, “Mary Desti’s Ass”
• Dodie Bellamy, “St. Paul and All That”
• Duncan McNaughton, “Memoir of Sergei O….”
• Matt Gonzalez, “Yesterday Down at the Canal”
• Brandon Brown, “Poem en Forme de Saw”
• Micah Ballard, Sunnylyn Thibodeaux, Jason Morris, “For the Chinese New Year & for Bill Berkson”
• Michael McClure, “Poem (Lana Turner has collapsed!)”
• Ronaldo Wilson, “Galanta”
• Tinker Greene, “Fantasy”

The announcement also includes a statement by O’Hara’s sister, Maureen O’Hara:

“I hope that everyone will delight in the new edition of Frank’s LUNCH POEMS. The correspondence between Lawrence and Frank is great. Frank was just 33 when he wrote to Lawrence in 1959 and 38 when LUNCH POEMS was published! The fact that City Lights kept Frank’s LUNCH POEMS in print all these years has been extraordinary, wonderful and a constant comfort. Hurray for independent publishers and independent bookstores. Many thanks always to Lawrence Ferlinghetti and everyone at City Lights.”

If you’re anywhere near San Francisco, and if you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to hear Michael Palmer read O’Hara’s “Ave Maria,” or Michael McLure read “Poem (Lana Turner has collapsed!),” or Dodie Bellamy read “St. Paul and All That,” then this is the event for you.

Here are the specifics:

Friday FEB 6 @ McRoskey Mattress Co.
1687 Market Street (at Gough), San Francisco, 7 pm (doors open at 6:30), $10 ($5 low income; free to SFSU students & Poetry Center members)

hosted by McRoskey Mattress Co., cosponsored by The Poetry Center, The Green Arcade, and City Lights Books

For more information, see:



Posted in Bill Berkson, Clark Coolidge, Event, Frank O'Hara