Four thousand three hundred and sixty-
Two minutes all poetry was changed
For me what did I do in exchange
I am selfish, afraid you are
Overwhelmingly parade, back, sunshine, dreams
Later thousands of dreams

Koch isn’t, of course, renowned for the emotional. Yet he is often emotional. He is more famous because so many of his poems are the poet at play. But the poet at play allows in so much, and expands the notion of the poem so much, that everything eventually comes in: happy and sad, silly and serious, everything. It makes me want to be alive.

James Schuyler wrote beautiful poems. And I am only now coming to realise how beautiful and wonderful they are. I’m not sure yet that he touches me the way his friends do. But one of the things one learns from reading poems is that wakefulness comes at odd times. One may perhaps only begin to fully appreciate a poet after an unusual long time of acquaintance. I have not, until lately, been altogether ready in my head for the still and monumental exactitude of Schuyler’s beauty. Then, reading these poems again for the first time in a while, I was stunned. “Hymn To Life” is amazing. Nine pages or so of amazing. One gull coasts by, unexpected as a kiss on the nape of the neck.” If you would not give your life to be able to write like that then you do not want to write. I am sorry. That’s what I think. And I am not sorry at all.

And then there’s Frank O’Hara. It’s Frank O’Hara people usually mean when they say that so-and-so writes poems influenced by New York School poetry, like if so-and-so writes poems that are kind of diary-like occasions, and have a lot of the everyday in them, and are thus unpoetic in a conventional unconventional way. O’Hara is perhaps the most misread and misconstrued New York poet. He is mainly known as the poet of the “I do this, I do that” poem, knocking off poems at parties, and giving them to friends, and forgetting about them. Then those poems are discovered in their several hundreds after his death and they make a huge Collected Poems, big enough to stun more than a single ox. And it has to be said that they are not all good poems. The word “slight” comes to mind. But the good poems are so good. The somewhat over-anthologised O’Hara poems (“Why I Am Not A Painter”, “The Day Lady Died” etc….) are not all of O’Hara. One has to read more widely, and even beyond the startling “In Memory Of My Feelings”, to get a true sense of this remarkable poet, the melancholy and sadness, and the beauty

and soon I am rising for the less than average day, I have coffee
I prepare calmly to face almost everything that will come up I am calm
but not as my bed was calm as it softly declined to become a ship
I borrow Joe's seersucker jacket though he is asleep I start out
when I last borrowed it I was leaving there it was on my Spanish plaza back
and hid my shoulders from San Marco's pigeons was jostled on the
Kurfurstendamm

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