Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Rose, Where Did You Get That Red?

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.”


LKD said...

I'm not familiar with Koch's work, Glenn. I just googled him and found this tribute to him by Robert Creeley which seemed apt (actually, the link I just provided is from a 2002 issue of Jacket, a Koch tribue issue) especially after reading "Patrizia" and seeing the same strange linebreaks in it that Creeley used in "I Know a Man."

So, Koch really said that? I can't think of anything more discouraging than someone whom you admire giving such a ...dismissive...?...reply to your question. I placed a question mark after dismissive because I'm not quite sure how you felt in reponse to his reponse.

Glenn Ingersoll said...

Well, every word I say in public requires great anxiety, so I was disappointed that all that anxiety was rewarded by a weary dismissal. I knew asking the question it was probably one Koch had answered many times but I couldn't think of anything of the boy-I've-never-heard-that-one sort. Still, he was human. That's OK, too.

I remember reading the account on the web of an audience member at a Sherman Alexie reading. The audience member was offended by Alexie's flippant answer of (her?) question. She felt he owed her a respectful response. I don't think he owed her anything. A respectful response is nice, but ...

I guess I want to be forgiven for my cranky pants days, too.