POET BURNS 200 NEXT SUNDAY: Kenneth Koch, John Ashbery, and Robert Burns

In honor of Robert Burns Night — the celebration for the Scottish poet that is commemorated annually on the poet’s birthday, January 25 — here’s an amusing snippet from a letter Kenneth Koch sent to John Ashbery 55 years ago tomorrow (January 27. 1955).

In the middle of a newsy, funny letter to his friend “Ashtray,” Koch pastes, without explanation, a clipping about the upcoming Burns bicentennial that contains a delicious double meaning — exactly the kind of absurdity and playful punning these poets relished and stuffed their letters to one another with.

Kenneth Koch to John Ashbery (January 27, 1950), in Painters & Poets: Tibor de Nagy Gallery

Kenneth Koch to John Ashbery (January 27, 1950), in Painters & Poets: Tibor de Nagy Gallery

The letter can be found in the wonderful book Painters & Poets: Tibor de Nagy Gallery. Happy Robert Burns Night to all!

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