From the diary: “November 3, 1981
“I got applauded for a poem in poetry class yesterday. That was the first time anyone was ever applauded in poetry class. I don’t know why, but I guess I don’t see all that fantastic stuff in my poetry. But I love writing it.”
I hadn’t yet read a book of contemporary poetry. I was writing in response to the poems presented to us in class and what I already knew from textbooks and poems I’d happened upon here and there. Maureen and Zara used Kenneth Koch’s books in their teaching.
A few years ago Koch gave a reading in San Francisco. Afterward there was opportunity for questions from the audience and I asked the poet if he had any current thoughts about teaching poetry, to kids in particular. He looked wearied by the question. “No,” he said. “I think I’ve talked about that enough.”
I should have just said, “Thanks for Rose, Where Did You Get that Red? and Wishes, Lies, and Dreams. I’m glad they were there for me.”