The blog of author Dennis Cooper

8 poems by Kenneth Koch + a conversation between Kenneth Koch and John Ashbery + links + Kenneth Koch talks to Mr. Rogers

Kenneth Kochin kasvot ovat kuin olisi runoilija Turusta



Nothing’s moving I don’t see anybody
And I know that it’s not a trick
There really is nothing moving there
And there aren’t any people. It is the very utmost top
Where, as is not unusual,
There is snow, lying like the hair on a white-haired person’s head
Combed sideways and backward and forward to cover as much of the top
As possible, for the snow is thinning, it’s September
Although a few months from now there will be a new crop
Probably, though this no one KNOWS (so neither do we)
But every other year it has happened by November
Except for one year that’s known about, nineteen twenty-three
When the top was more and more uncovered until December fifteenth
When finally it snowed and snowed
I love seeing this mountain like a mouse
Attached to the tail of another mouse, and to another and to another
In total mountain silence
There is no way to get up there, and no means to stay.
It is uninhabitable. No roads and no possibility
Of roads. You don’t have a history
Do you, mountain top? This doesn’t make you either a mystery
Or a dull person and you’re certainly not a truck stop.
No industry can exploit you
No developer can divide you into estates or lots
No dazzling disquieting woman can tie your heart in knots.
I could never lead my life on one of those spots
You leave uncovered up there. No way to be there
But I’m moved.


There is no way not to be excited
When what you have been disillusioned by raises its head
From its arms and seems to want to talk to you again.
You forget home and family
And set off on foot or in your automobile
And go to where you believe this form of reality
May dwell. Not finding it there, you refuse
Any further contact
Until you are back again trying to forget
The only thing that moved you (it seems) and gave what you forever will
But in the form of a disillusion.
Yet often, looking toward the horizon
There—inimical to you?—is that something you have never found
And that, without those who came before you, you could never have
How could you have thought there was one person who could make you
Happy and that happiness was not the uneven
Phenomenon you have known it to be? Why do you keep believing in this
Reality so dependent on the time allowed it
That it has less to do with your exile from the age you are
Than from everything else life promised that you could do?

The Boiling Water

A serious moment for the water is
when it boils
And though one usually regards it
merely as a convenience
To have the boiling water
available for bath or table
Occasionally there is someone
around who understands
The importance of this moment
for the water—maybe a saint,
Maybe a poet, maybe a crazy
man, or just someone
temporarily disturbed
With his mind ‘floating’in a
sense, away from his deepest
Personal concerns to more
‘unreal’ things…

A serious moment for the island
is when its trees
Begin to give it shade, and
another is when the ocean
Big heavy things against its side.
One walks around and looks at
the island
But not really at it, at what is on
it, and one thinks,
It must be serious, even, to be this
island, at all, here.
Since it is lying here exposed to
the whole sea. All its
Moments might be serious. It is
serious, in such windy weather,
to be a sail
Or an open window, or a feather
flying in the street…

Seriousness, how often I have
thought of seriousness
And how little I have understood
it, except this: serious is urgent
And it has to do with change. You
say to the water,
It’s not necessary to boil now,
and you turn it off. It stops
Fidgeting. And starts to cool. You
put your hand in it
And say, The water isn’t serious
any more. It has the potential,
However—that urgency to give
off bubbles, to
Change itself to steam. And the
When it becomes part of a
hurricane, blowing up the
And the sand dunes can’t keep it
Fainting is one sign of
seriousness, crying is another.
Shuddering all over is another

A serious moment for the
telephone is when it rings.
And a person answers, it is
Angelica, or is it you.

A serious moment for the fly is
when its wings
Are moving, and a serious
moment for the duck
Is when it swims, when it first
touches water, then spreads
Its smile upon the water…

A serious moment for the match
is when it burst into flame…

Serious for me that I met you, and
serious for you
That you met me, and that we do
not know
If we will ever be close to anyone
again. Serious the recognition
of the probability
That we will, although time
stretches terribly in

Anonymous submission.

Poem For My Twentieth Birthday

Passing the American graveyard, for my birthday
the crosses stuttering, white on tropical green,
the years’ quick focus of faces I do not remember . . .

The palm trees stalking like deliberate giants
for my birthday, and all the hot adolescent memories
seen through a screen of water . . .

For my birthday thrust into the adult and actual:
expected to perform the action, not to ponder
the reality beyond the fact,
the man standing upright in the dream.

To My Fifties

I should say something to you
Now that you have departed over the mountains
Leaving me to my sixties and seventies, not hopeful of your return,
O you, who seemed to mark the end of life, who ever would have thought that you
would burn
With such sexual fires as you did? I wound up in you
Some work I had started long before. You were
A time for completion and for destruction. My
Marriage had ended. In you I sensed trying to find
A way out of you actually that wasn’t toward non-existence.
I thought, “All over.” You cried, “I’m here!” You were like traveling
In this sense, but on one’s own
With no tour guide or even the train schedule.
As a “Prime of Life” I missed you. You seemed an incompletion made up of
Unacquainted with each other. How could this be happening? I thought. Or
What should it mean, exactly, that I am fifty-seven? I wanted to be always feeling
Now you’re a young age to me. And, in you, as at every other time
I thought that one year would last forever.
“I did the best possible. I lasted my full ten years. Now I’m responsible
For someone else’s decade and haven’t time to talk to you, which is a shame
Since I can never come back.” My Fifties! Answer me one question!
Were you the culmination or a phase? “Neither and both.” Explain! “No time.

The Magic of Numbers

The Magic of Numbers—1

How strange it was to hear the furniture being moved around in the apartment upstairs!
I was twenty-six, and you were twenty-two.

The Magic of Numbers—2

You asked me if I wanted to run, but I said no and walked on.
I was nineteen, and you were seven.

The Magic of Numbers—3

Yes, but does X really like us?
We were both twenty-seven.

The Magic of Numbers—4

You look like Jerry Lewis (1950).

The Magic of Numbers—5

Grandfather and grandmother want you to go over to their house for dinner.
They were sixty-nine, and I was two and a half.

The Magic of Numbers—6

One day when I was twenty-nine years old I met you and nothing happened.

The Magic of Numbers—7

No, of course it wasn’t I who came to the library!
Brown eyes, flushed cheeks, brown hair. I was twenty-nine, and you were sixteen.

The Magic of Numbers—8

After we made love one night in Rockport I went outside and kissed the road
I felt so carried away. I was twenty-three, and you were nineteen.

The Magic of Numbers—9

I was twenty-nine, and so were you. We had a very passionate time.
Everything I read turned into a story about you and me, and everything I did was turned into a poem.

To Stammering

Where did you come from, lamentable quality?
Before I had a life you were about to ruin my life.
The mystery of this stays with me.
“Don’t brood about things,” my elders said.
I hadn’t any other experience of enemies from inside.
They were all from outside–big boys
Who cursed me and hit me; motorists; falling trees.
All these you were as bad as, yet inside. When I spoke, you were there.
I could avoid you by singing or acting.
I acted in school plays but was no good at singing.
Immediately after the play you were there again.
You ruined the cast party.
You were not a sign of confidence.
You were not a sign of manliness.
You were stronger than good luck and bad; you survived them both.
You were slowly edged out of my throat by psychoanalysis
You who had been brought in, it seems, like a hired thug
To beat up both sides and distract them
From the main issue: oedipal love. You were horrible!
Tell them, now that you’re back in your thug country,
That you don’t have to be so rough next time you’re called in
But can be milder and have the same effect–unhappiness and pain.

The Circus

I remember when I wrote The Circus
I was living in Paris, or rather we were living in Paris
Janice, Frank was alive, the Whitney Museum
Was still on 8th Street, or was it still something else?
Fernand Léger lived in our building
Well it wasn’t really our building it was the building we lived in
Next to a Grand Guignol troupe who made a lot of noise
So that one day I yelled through a hole in the wall
Of our apartment I don’t know why there was a hole there
Shut up! And the voice came back to me saying something
I don’t know what. Once I saw Léger walk out of the building
I think. Stanley Kunitz came to dinner. I wrote The Circus
In two tries, the first getting most of the first stanza;
That fall I also wrote an opera libretto called Louisa or Matilda.
Jean-Claude came to dinner. He said (about “cocktail sauce”)
It should be good on something but not on these (oysters).
By that time I think I had already written The Circus
When I came back, having been annoyed to have to go
I forget what I went there about
You were back in the apartment what a dump actually we liked it
I think with your hair and your writing and the pans
Moving strummingly about the kitchen and I wrote The Circus
It was a summer night no it was an autumn one summer when
I remember it but actually no autumn that black dusk toward the post office
And I wrote many other poems then but The Circus was the best
Maybe not by far the best Geography was also wonderful
And the Airplane Betty poems (inspired by you) but The Circus was the best.

Sometimes I feel I actually am the person
Who did this, who wrote that, including that poem The Circus
But sometimes on the other hand I don’t.
There are so many factors engaging our attention!
At every moment the happiness of others, the health of those we know and our own!
And the millions upon millions of people we don’t know and their well-being to think about
So it seems strange I found time to write The Circus
And even spent two evenings on it, and that I have also the time
To remember that I did it, and remember you and me then, and write this poem about it
At the beginning of The Circus
The Circus girls are rushing through the night
In the circus wagons and tulips and other flowers will be picked
A long time from now this poem wants to get off on its own
Someplace like a painting not held to a depiction of composing The Circus.

Noel Lee was in Paris then but usually out of it
In Germany or Denmark giving a concert
As part of an endless activity
Which was either his career or his happiness or a combination of both
Or neither I remember his dark eyes looking he was nervous
With me perhaps because of our days at Harvard.

It is understandable enough to be nervous with anybody!

How softly and easily one feels when alone
Love of one’s friends when one is commanding the time and space syndrome
If that’s the right word which I doubt but together how come one is so nervous?
One is not always but what was I then and what am I now attempting to create
If create is the right word
Out of this combination of experience and aloneness
And who are you telling me it is or is not a poem (not you?) Go back with me though
To those nights I was writing The Circus.
Do you like that poem? have you read it? It is in my book Thank You
Which Grove just reprinted. I wonder how long I am going to live
And what the rest will be like I mean the rest of my life.

John Cage said to me the other night How old are you? and I told him forty-six
(Since then I’ve become forty-seven) he said
Oh that’s a great age I remember.
John Cage once told me he didn’t charge much for his mushroom identification course (at the New School)
Because he didn’t want to make a profit from nature

He was ahead of his time I was behind my time we were both in time
Brilliant go to the head of the class and “time is a river”
It doesn’t seem like a river to me it seems like an unformed plan
Days go by and still nothing is decided about
What to do until you know it never will be and then you say “time”
But you really don’t care much about it any more
Time means something when you have the major part of yours ahead of you
As I did in Aix-en-Provence that was three years before I wrote The Circus
That year I wrote Bricks and The Great Atlantic Rainway
I felt time surround me like a blanket endless and soft
I could go to sleep endlessly and wake up and still be in it
But I treasured secretly the part of me that was individually changing
Like Noel Lee I was interested in my career
And still am but now it is like a town I don’t want to leave
Not a tower I am climbing opposed by ferocious enemies

I never mentioned my friends in my poems at the time I wrote The Circus
Although they meant almost more than anything to me
Of this now for some time I’ve felt an attenuation
So I’m mentioning them maybe this will bring them back to me
Not them perhaps but what I felt about them
John Ashbery Jane Freilicher Larry Rivers Frank O’Hara
Their names alone bring tears to my eyes
As seeing Polly did last night
It is beautiful at any time but the paradox is leaving it
In order to feel it when you’ve come back the sun has declined
And the people are merrier or else they’ve gone home altogether
And you are left alone well you put up with that your sureness is like the sun
While you have it but when you don’t its lack’s a black and icy night. I came home
And wrote The Circus that night, Janice. I didn’t come and speak to you
And put my arm around you and ask you if you’d like to take a walk
Or go to the Cirque Medrano though that’s what I wrote poems about
And am writing about that now, and now I’m alone

And this is not as good a poem as The Circus
And I wonder if any good will come of either of them all the same.





KENNETH KOCH: John, do you think we both might be too much concerned with matters of taste? Or don’t you think it’s possible to be too much concerned with it?

JOHN ASHBERY: What else is there besides matters of taste?

KK: How would you change that statement if you wanted to put it in a poem? I think that statement would seem too pompous to you to put into a poem. Or too obvious.

JA: I would not put a statement in a poem. I feel that poetry must reflect on already existing statements.

KK: Why?

JA: Poetry does not have subject matter, because it is the subject. We are the subject matter of poetry, not vice versa.

KK: Could you distinguish your statement from the ordinary idea, which it resembles in every particular, that poems are about people?

JA: Yes. Poems are about people and things.

KK: Then when you said “we” you were including the other objects in this room.

JA: Of course.

KK: What has this to do with putting a statement in a poem?

JA: When statements occur in poetry they are merely a part of the combined refractions of everything else.

KK: What I mean is, how is the fact that poetry is about us connected to the use of statements in poetry?

JA: It isn’t.

KK: But you said before –

JA: I said nothing of the kind. Now stop asking me all these questions.

KK: I’m sorry.

JA: Now I’ll ask you a few questions. Why are you always putting things in Paris in all of your poems? I live there but it seems to me I’ve never written anything about it.

KK: Isn’t “Europe” mainly set there?

JA: No. Reread that poem. It all takes place in England.

KK: What about the gray city and the snow valentines and so on – even though the main part of the narrative obviously takes place on the flying fields of England, the real psychological locale of the poem always seemed to me to be in Paris. No? Where were you when you wrote it?

JA: In Paris. But there is only one reference to Paris in the entire poem.

KK: Well, I wrote Ko in Florence.

JA: I wish you would answer my question and also explain –

KK: And there is only one reference to Florence in it, but the way things come together and take place always seemed to me to be very dependent on the fact that it was written in Florence. What did you want me to answer?

JA: Let’s ignore for the moment at least your enigmatic statement that the way things come together reminds you of Florence –

KK: I did not say that.

JA: Anyway I wish you would explain for me and our readers –

KK: Listeners.

JA: – why we seem to omit references to the cities in which we are living, in our work. This is not true of most American poetry. Shudder.

KK: Hmm. I guess we do. I did write one poem about New York while I was in New York, but the rest of the poems about America I wrote in Europe.

JA: I repeat, why we seem to omit ALMOST all references – ?

KK: I find it gets to be too difficult to get through my everyday associations with things familiar to me for me to be able to use them effectively in poetry.

JA: Snore.

KK: I myself am bored by my attempts to make abstract statements and wish I could do it as facilely as you do. I’m going to cut out my previous statement. What made you snore?

JA: Well, if you’re cutting out your statement, then my snore naturally goes with it, I suppose.

KK: Maybe I won’t cut it out. Or I might just keep the snore.

JA: It sounded too much like the way all artists talk when asked to explain their art.

KK: Yes, I agree. I dislike my statement. Why do you suppose are so bothered by such things?

JA: It’s rather hard to be a good artist and also be able to explain intelligently what your art is about. In fact, the worse your art is the easier it is to talk about it. At least, I’d like to think so.

KK: Could you give an example of a very bad artist who explains his work very well?

JA: (Silence)

KK: I guess you don’t want to mention any names. Why don’t you want to mention any names, by the way? Especially since I once heard you say that names are more expressive words than any others.

JA: Some people might get offended. I don’t see the point of that.

KK: Do you mean you’re afraid?

JA: No. Just bored in advance by the idea of having to defend myself.

KK: Have you ever been physically attacked because of your art criticism?

JA: No, because I always say I like everything.

KK: Would you say that is the main function of criticism?

JA: If it isn’t it should be.

KK: How can one talk about what should be the function of something?

JA: Our problem seems to be to avoid it.

KK: To avoid what?

JA: Talking about what you said.

KK: Let me go back a little.

JA: That’s always a mistake.

KK: All right, I’ll take you at your word. But we were getting on to something interesting – but it went by so quickly.

JA: This is true of much great poetry.

KK: And even truer of the rest of it. I was thinking today as I drove over here what my poetry could possibly do for me or for anyone who reads it. I thought it might make people happy temporarily.

JA: That’s a pretty tall order.

KK: I know. I was just going to change the word from happy to something else.

JA: I’d be interested to know what you were going to change it to.

KK: Maybe to pleasantly surprised.

JA: Now you’re talking!


Koch links



Kenneth Koch Website
Kenneth Koch bio @ The Poetry Foundation
Kenneth Koch interviewed
Kenneth Koch’s ‘Some Generational Instructions’
‘One Man In His Time Plays Many Parts’
Kenneth Koch @ goodreads
Kenneth Koch interviewed @ PBS
Kenneth Koch @ The Allen Ginsberg Project
A Tribute to Kenneth Koch @ Jacket2
Kenneth Koch posts @ Locus Solus: The New York School of Poets
Kenneth Koch’s ‘On Aesthetics’
‘Getting some with Kenneth Koch’
‘The Adolescent: Marit MacArthur on Kenneth Koch’
Kenneth Koch’s poems @ The New Yorker
‘One Author May Hide Another: Kenneth Koch and Latour’
‘The Impossible Comics of Kenneth Koch’
Buy Kenneth Koch’s books

Kenneth Koch talks to Mr. Rogers


p.s. Hey. ** Peter maloney, Hey there, Mr. Maloney! How very cool of you to enter here, and thank you for the props. Really, really nice paintings by you on your blog. It’s a total treat to get to lodge them in my consciousness. Everyone, artist Peter Maloney kindly entered the blog’s airless space yesterday, and I recommend you click this link to his blog and look at his terrific paintings and the other stuff over there. Weird/funny coincidence: A couple of days ago, I saw the summer show at the Palais de Tokyo, which is mostly awful, but the best thing in it by far was a video of a boy dancing/facing the very painting that you’re using as your avatar. What are the odds? I don’t know those Janine Gordon images, no, but now I will, thanks to you. Cool, happy to have here, and please come back anytime. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. Wow, that is wild. I sent the link to Gisele immediately, and I’m sure she’ll dig it. Wow. Thanks, buddy. ** Tosh Berman, Aw, thanks a lot, my friend. ** David Ehrenstein, Happy slightly belated b’day to the great alternative film goddess! ** Gary gray, Hi. Cool, great, thank you! Yeah, that’s a quite clever and very committed technique you had going on there. Super awesome DG live report. They just seem more and more interesting/great all the time. Me, up to? Lots of projects in progress, mostly: novel, collab book about the Scandinavia theme park trip I took a while back, collab porn film project, new Gisele piece, etc. Upcoming trip(s) planning. Hanging out. Things are good. So, you’re getting a withdrawal effect that encourages and fuels writing? Hunh, interesting. Can you describe the effect it’s having on the writing or on your writing approach or whatever? Maybe it’s best to just let it happen without analyzing. Yeah, probably, right? Cool. ** Don w, Hi, Don! Thanks a bunch, man. That’s awfully sweet you to have typed. How in the world are you and everything you do? Big love. ** Kyler, Thank for saying and, I presume, thinking that, man. I think someone mentioned that book you’re reading to me. In fact, it might even have been my agent. How curious. Want to see the Allen. It opens here this week, I think. The p.s. yesterday was essentially the previous post. You just had to keep scrolling and clicking ‘Older posts’ if need be. Happy Wednesday, whatever Wednesday means and involves. ** Allesfliesst, Dance scholar, interesting. What’s your syllabus or dance examples line-up or whatever? I can imagine that the Quays’ film could sit in some place within me that is similar to the place where it has come to rest in you. Perhaps I’ll let it flourish in memories. The main and maybe only thing I remember about it at this point is how incredible Alice Krige was in it, or how incredible seeming she was at the time, at least. Hanna Schygulla as FB! I think I maybe have to find that. ** Wolf, Hi, Wolf. Your little dance? Surely I would remember it, if you did, so I guess that treat awaits my next in-person with you when, first thing, I will politely demand to see it. The blog’s loading problem will forever be a mysterious problem, it seems. Very interesting. I mean your approach to self. Hunh. I admire that. I even aspire to a place of at least making art like that. But it wouldn’t work with me, I don’t think. I think I wouldn’t be a good writer at all. The self has to hold total sway for me and then be battled and tortured into language’s proper place. So interesting that there are so many ways to make it work, whatever I mean by ‘it’. Oh, that is a nice building. That’s in Brighton? Weird. On Naoshima in Japan, there were a bunch of pretty great Sugimotos in the museum/hotel/etc. complex where we stayed. Punching a hologram, ha ha, what?! I’m going to be figuring out that image’s relationship to a live music gig all day, which is, obviously, a good thing. ‘Elysium’ is bad? That’s sad. I’ve been semi-into seeing it. Maybe sub-semi now. Thanks, Wolfy! ** Scunnard, Hi, pal. It’s kind of nice, the pre-moving boxing up and stuff, no? The getting rid, the reassessing, the tape dispenser, etc. Am I totally romanticizing that? Surely not. Yeah, hm, yeah, I had this sneaking suspicion that ‘IB’ might not hold up. Weird how that happens, or not weird, or I don’t know. Like I really liked Aronovsky’s ‘Pi’ when it first came out, and then I saw it again and thought it was pure misery, but I’ve found his subsequent films to be varying degrees of pure misery, so maybe I was actually innocent and right the first time about ‘Pi’. I don’t think so, though. Anyway, blah blah. Best of the best of what it takes to get packed up. When do you move precisely? Ultra-soon, yes? ** œ, Hi. Yes, that Fujiko video, so nice. My friend Zac and I will be visiting and documenting two of her France-based works while on our work trip to the Loire Valley next week. I’m going to find and read that Sollers thing on Mallarme. Cool, thank you for mentioning it. Oh, okay, well, if you feel you need to stay away, I hope everything goes incredibly well for you until I get the pleasure of visiting with you again. Much love to you. ** Sypha, Hi. I didn’t know that was Chris Colfer for a while, since I don’t know ‘Glee’ at all, and then, when I realized, I had to pair it with the Taylor Swift gif, which somehow seemed to justify my including those guys. Never danced in public? What about privately in your room? Do you ever play air guitar? ** Heliotrope, Hi, Mark! It has been too long, but you get a pass to take however long you want, man. As long as it’s not too long, okay? Except for the work shake-ups and car death (RIP) and the loss of your parents’ last friend, I’m sorry, your summer sounds to have been kind of nicely summery. And that was a nice summary, to create a rhyme. It’s terrible that the Dodgers being great right now just makes me feel nervous and suspicious. Fingers crossed, though. I miss you always too. I wish you guys would/could come to Paris. I’ll get to LA soon some way or another, I hope. Love you too, bud. ** Rewritedept, Finally the post caused someone’s computer or whatever problems! I was so sure that it would. Dude, everything at that bakery is edible heaven. I’ve got a bag of all kinds of their things in my kitchen waiting to be devoured by me and others in a few hours. Ugh, sorry, man, about the living situation shit. Take the genius tag. Surely that’s true, and it isn’t often that genius gets recognized externally or something. There are still intelligent people, they just aren’t wasting their intelligence in/on social networks. That’s my theory. The American anti-intellectual thing is eternal, I think. It’s been around and prominent ever since I was a kid. It was just much easier to forget it existed in ‘the old days’. My sleep thing is much better, but it’s not completely cured, weirdly. Solitary living might be good, yeah. It sure can be, at least for getting art done. Yeah, I don’t know, I think love for other people is the absolutely ultimate thing. For me, it is, for whatever reason. A secret? Cool. ** Steevee, Hi. Your Fassbinder piece at last! Great! I’ll be over there in just a while. Everyone, the extremely head-screwed-on critic and dude Steve Erickson aka Steevee has written a piece on Fassbinder’s early films for the Roger Ebert site, and I can tell you without even having read said piece yet that it is a must. So, head over here as soon as you are able. ** Bill, Oh, that sounds really good. That sextet, that line up. Sweet. New stuff! New Bill stuff! Yes, yes, yes! ** Schlix, Hi, Uli! Yeah, I’ve been waking up weirdly early due to the last vestiges of my sleep problems, so the blog has been more ‘on time’ than it usually is. Your Croatia trip sounds amazing. I would really like to go there sometime. It allures. You are right about the problem with the Frankfurt dates. The performances got rescheduled for next May, and I totally forgot to change the dates, but now I have. I haven’t been traveling with ‘The Pyre’, and Gisele has barely been in Paris this summer, but she tells me that the performances have been going really well, so I guess they have since she’s normally not deluded about how things are going. ** MANCY, Cool, thank you, man. ** S., Actually, I have some kind of back up thing on my laptop that I could use to preserve time-enslaved stuff, if it worked, which it doesn’t, so, no, I don’t have a time machine. Do you think I’d be sitting here writing this p.s. if I did? Maybe I would be, though. Weird. Cool about the good school thing and the blond surroundings. I was a pet person until I was about 14. There are a shitload of ‘dog slaves’ out there. A few ‘horses’ and I think maybe a ‘cat’ or two. A lot, and I mean a lot of ‘pigs’. Never have come across a ‘scorpion’ or ‘centipede’ slave. Some boy should offer that service, if he could figure what the service would involve. He would have the market cornered. You’re addicted to Kyler Moss? Interesting. He seems so ‘last year’ to me or something, but then it’s so easy to turn on things when they get famous. New short story, cool, duh, very cool. ** Right. We’re back to the normal post/p.s. fused situation today. And, to celebrate this great reunification, what better thing than the marvelous stylings of the poet Kenneth Koch. See you tomorrow.


  1. Scunnard

    Hi Dennis,

    Yes it’s true, and it’s usually the tidiest my place ever looks. Heh. I also really enjoy getting rid of things I don’t need anymore (I’ve done enough big moves over the years that I can be relatively ruthless about it when need be, but also I think it’s funny, the random things I’ve chosen to keep around over the years). Yeah, I liked Pi a lot as well when it came out, but haven’t seen it since then… maybe I’ll have to watch again as I suspect you are right. Yes, we move on Friday and will be in limbo for a bit with that. Going out tonight with some friends and ex-students as a bit of a going away, which basically leaves tomorrow to wrap everything up. To quote from your Ponge post: "Into the bin! Into the bin! Nature shreds her manuscripts, demolishes her library, furiously knocks down her final fruits.”

  2. allesfliesst

    scunnard: interesting, i've often experienced something similar, and in some cases i deliberately chose not to see a film (or read a book) again because i suspected the subtlety and complexity and density to be a product of my memory/imagination, fearing it wouldn't be 'there' if i returned to the work after many years. my memory also seems to change the wording of dialogues, if ever so slightly. it has happened, certainly more than a dozen times, that when i finally looked up a sentence i had been 'quoting' for years, the original turned out to be just a little different, and a lot of what i liked about the sentence was in the difference i'd unknowingly constructed ;d

    dennis: maybe the deleuze/assfuck quote i mentioned last week also belongs to this group of inadvertently 'enhanced' memories.

    i'll do a seminar on gravity. pretending i was a dance specialist would be silly, so i'm planning to investigate different epoques of dance in respect to how dance aesthetics dealt with gravity: trying to defy it by creating the illusion of a 'floating' body in romantic ballet; working with stark contrasts between lightness and heavyness, jumping and falling, in ausdruckstanz and modern dance; exploring the steady, moderate heaviness of rolling (over one another) as a 'democratic' form of movement in contact improv, etc. i'm also interested in how gravity as a uniform environmental condition helps us to coordinate our individual moves into collective movements – and in how to achieve coordination where gravity is suspended. there happens to be an exhibition about dragan zivadinov's project of performing dance in space right now in berlin, where they are also addressing this problem. i think we talked about him and noordung and the new slowenian art movement a while ago, didn't we? (i'm really doubting my memory now…)

  3. Wolf

    Wait, no, what? The awesome building is in Marseille, not Brighton. Did you mean Marseille? Strange. Yeah, it's a beauty. They got cash pressies from Europe and went balls-out. Completely re-vamped an old previously crappy-looking fort by the harbour, built this baby out of nowhere, another crazy one right next to it. It warmed my heart, let me tell you – you'd think what with its heritage France would be more interesting architecturally. Instead you have hyper-stringent conservation laws and super conservative public opinion and nothing interesting ever happens, almost.

    Oh, well it's not like my approach to self was a choice or a philosophical wager or anything. Brain goes kapoink enough times, stuff changes in there. We've all heard of football players with one too many concussions who wake up one day and are someone else. You just deal, you know? Adapt. Move on. I'm pretty sure I used to think exactly along your lines re: the place of the self in art and its role, its weight, necessity. In fact I think I was even more extreme than that in the belief, which might explain why I flipped so far in the opposite direction.

    Elysium, well, all in all it was quite entertaining. But either I'm "getting too old for this shit" or movies are getting louder and louder and more and more ADD, 'cause to me it felt like a hundred screamy/explodey sequences with no narrative tension interlaced with a hundred hushy-emo sequences with no character depth. A lot of hints of interesting things none of which was pursued. Hackneyed motivational structure and paint-by-numbers plot. Half-dimensional characters, all unsurprisingly playing their part.
    Disappointing as opposed to just crap because you felt there was so much material for something great there: Damon and Foster who last time I checked were damn good, a setup that was really interesting, seriously awesome special effects, space for a proper study of social issues… and come on, just how many different kinds of asses did District 9 kick again?

    That KK/JA conversation was great, in an absurdist kind of way. I do wish intelligent people relied less on wit sometimes, it can feel like such a copout. But then it makes for entertaining reading. A sentence like "It's rather hard to be a good artist and also be able to explain intelligently what your art is about. In fact, the worse your art is the easier it is to talk about it." is easy to say, easy to read, easy to enthusiastically agree with… and also easy to shoot down, since it is a lot of bs; but shooting it down will take time and will sound reasonable, boring to some even, and the truth is never quite as pretty as generalities, is it? Who headlines papers with "it depends"?

  4. James

    Hi Dennis,

    I returned from a three day vacation in Santa Fe last night. Santa Fe is about 520 miles from where I live. I had nebulous dreams about living in a village like Truchas or Dixon and taking up beekeeping again, which I used to do in another life, but after spending three days in Santa Fe, I came to the conclusion that NM isn't for me, based on two things I observed while there, namely that there are two types of people in Santa Fe, old rich white people, and the Hispanic people who are there to serve them. It's like Sedona, only with more glitter and gloss. No thanks. Give me grumpy old poor white trash and poor Mexicans any day. I guess it's tough to watch one of your dreams die… or maybe not?

    How is the novel coming along? I hope you are happy with your work thus far. Do you have a title in mind? (no need to share). Does the title change often, or is it pretty concrete? How about word count? Will it be similar in length to TMS?

    I hope you are well, my friend.

    I don't know much about Kenneth Koch or John Ashbery, though I do know that Ashbery recently translated 'Illuminations' by Rimbaud, which I have been meaning to purchase but haven't gotten around to yet. Supposedly it is a wonderful translation.. have you read it?

    Have a great day, my friend.

    Much love,

  5. DavidEhrenstein

    Fabulous to see a Day devoted to Kenneth Koch.

    Ah les New York Poets, Mon Amour!

  6. Don w

    Hey D,

    All is well on this end. Teaching this year at the Univ of Iowa, but it's still back and forth between Iowa and Portland. I have a novel coming out soon: Sunland. It's getting some nice early reception. I'd love to find out what you're up to. I've been moving so much, + writing, etc., I'm out of the loop.


  7. DavidEhrenstein

    Pasolini studies

  8. gary gray

    Oh wow! i'm really digging this post! it's like a taste test of these poets (i'm a big fan of JA snore n ~silence~). i think ima take a jaunt to skylight later today. check these guys out proper

    i hate it. but i now have a screaming urge to express my experiences. hehe it's somewhat apparent with the comment i've left about fyf. i don't think i've ever shared that much on here. it's all been a shock to my sense. because i've been so aware how drugs affected my view of things, i'm now trying to learn how i perceive thing mist the absents. how all that pertains to the story: i'm now tragically aware how i used drugs to block my view of real events in my life. like: the last year of my mothers life i fought with her all the time as if i was a demon. when we discovered she had brain cancer it was too late for me to find a way to show her how much she meant to me. so with the story it's easer for me to write about regret because how i'm feeling. now the only thing i can do is write about those feelings. also with the story since its somewhat inspired by moments in my own life where i disappeared and my friends thought i was dead; to write about theses feelings with in the structure of the story is the only thing i want to do. i'd like to believe it's making the moments in the story where the 3 kids are wandering on the streets more personal and desperate. it should be finished soon. i'll share it with you when i'm done, if thats something y'd dig. besides i really want to finish the story soon .oO(damn! i'm saying story a lot) i really want to get back to smoking cigs and drinking coffee. waking up has never been so hard.

  9. œ

    hi, a nice, sober, quiet & cute koch day. koch's poems feel consoling to my mind, approachably. i liked him back then, and sold his books. now i see it a mistake. usually, i like ashbery more. his(ja) early language, so blazing, frosty with a land of non-america ness. there's an opaque indecency, in really, dry, thin grace of intelligence in his mind.—- this summer, which ended, my favorite reads were ashbery's translations of reverdy 'haunted house' & dupin 'three essays on giacometti.' while those enclose strong, poetic emotions, i felt like reading a computer programmed language, due to its precision, no smear. i've not read his 'quick question' yet, will read it first, upon my blog return. thanks for being kind to me, much appreciated. your fruit, hyemin

  10. rewritedept


    koch looks good. i especially enjoyed 'the magic of numbers.'

    yeah, i mean, i guess i should take the genius thing. i'm just in this thing where i'm trying to stay humble, because it seems like whenever one starts to take his positive points seriously, one starts to turn into an asshole. and i'm trying really hard not to be an asshole lately.

    and yeah, love for other people is wonderful and magical and all sorts of other things that i could probably use in my life right now. but it's hard to define and hard to pin down and so constantly changing that i'm over it for the moment.

    if you couldn't tell, i'm over a lot of things right now. living situation is ok, but there's just no progress being made on any front and i'm getting tired of living with my aunt and crashing at my dad's when i don't want to drive home. i need to have my own space where i can create and be messy and read five books at once and all the other shit i like to do.

    ok, i gotta run and get some stuff accomplished. first plan is to take some benadryl so these hives that have popped up all over my left wrist will go down.

    i couldn't think up an interesting secret to tell. but maybe later. gonna see baroness tonight, so by the time we meet next, i will have seen them. yay! talk soon.


  11. gary gray

    i was so self absorbed i forgot to mention something

    those projects sound amazing. i'm really anticipate the theme park project. you are quite the inspiration for me [dick riding over]

    now I'm gonna go back to watching 113 dances. BTW: have you seen this if not i have a feeling you would enjoy

  12. Chilly Jay Chill

    Hey Dennis – Those 113 Dances were massive yesterday. A great way to max out blogger! And a really nice Koch post today. Love the interview with Ashbery and "The Circus" in particular. You have a favorite Koch collection?

    Fighting off a new round of sickness (hopefully short lived) so I'm off to collapse and maybe keep watching the last season "Fringe," the sci-fi show that Michael Kimball got me hooked on. Love to you and Yury.

  13. _Black_Acrylic

    Just now I'm reading My 1980s and Other Essays by Wayne Koestenbaum. It has an Ashbery chapter in it, but I haven't got to that particular chapter quite yet.

    As of this evening, the bidding on that possessed doll has gone up to $1,025. It's probably worth saving in your watch list to find out what happens.

  14. steevee

    For what it's worth, I wrote to the one reporter I know at Al Jazeera and asked if the channel has covered Tarek Loubani and John Greyson's case (I've been able to watch it intermittently through a web link since it went off NYC cable, so it's possible I missed something, but I haven't seen any mention of it). His beat is American politics, but I asked if anyone else at the channel might be interested in doing a story on it.

  15. S.

    LOL I have that, I don't know how it works. Google+ saves all the Blogger posts but I go in and delete 'em. "They have no portfolio where I come from." Blogger are post are Blanchotian exercise, nobody needs my exercise tapes, they want the sex-tapes (ie. the novel/short-stories). I don't know what you might be doing, oh, well, I guess I could think of some things. A time machine would be so fun. 13th/15th/18th Century boys, here I come. There is a lack of boys, but that's alright. You know I like the idea of a dog slave. Some boy's asses are like dog ass. Lolz the last boy I slept with's dog gives great rim, I rimmed the boy, the dog rimmed me, hahaha. Hm horses and cats, I don't know. I guess horses are kinda hot. Pig-slaves, I think "Pig-slut" and blond boy ass. Centipede slave, maybe they're into clothes-pins and vampirism? Oh my god, he fucks so good, I've completely forgot what video is like. Any nice boys you can recommend? I know, duh, gonna start work on it tonight. Potry!

  16. steevee

    After I E-mailed my acquaintance, I got an automated reply that he's on vacation and not checking his E-mail till Sept. 3rd. Damn!

  17. Chris Dankland

    hey Dennis,

    I hadn't read any Koch before, so this was a really sweet introduction — I think my favorite poems were Paradiso and Poem for My 20th Birthday — I'll have to dig into his work a little bit more, I like him

    the Mr Rogers clip was cool too, I'm gonna start hunting for more excerpts from that show, I didn't know Mr Rogers had a show for adults

    I sent you an email with those interview questions — feel free to take as much time as you want, and thank you so much for doing it.

    have a great morning, bye

  18. DavidEhrenstein

    David Hockney

  19. alan

    I took a class with Kenneth Koch in college. The subject was Modern Poetry. He was an enthusiastic teacher and always had a lot of interesting things to say. I remember he told the class how a critic had once said his poems were too descriptive and he told John Ashbery and Ashbery told him, "You should make them ten times more descriptive." That is, what people single out (approvingly or not) as distinctive about your work may be worth developing.

    I like some of Koch's poems (the name is pronounced like "Coke," by the way), especially those in his last book, New Adresses (two of which are included above), and his novel The Red Robbins. He also wrote some funny parodies of poets like DH Lawrence and Ezra Pound.

    I thought Ashbery's translation of Rimbaud took too many liberties to be a reliable guide to the sense and overall didn't sound much different than other translations of Rimbaud. Not the worst you could find but not the best.

  20. Misanthrope

    Dennis, I slept so little Monday night that I almost fell asleep driving home from work Tuesday evening. I hopped in bed at 6pm and didn't wake up until 6am.

    I tell ya, I much prefer watching football on TV than at the game. Way too many distractions, not as much action. Or so it seems. Very much unlike the NBA or MLB, both of which really liven up the live games with shit during timeouts and between innings/quarters.

    Hmm, Madonna's been doing what Miley did for 30 years. Yawn. Jamiroquai was doing what Timberlake's doing today 20 years ago. And Marvin Gaye was doing it 40+ years ago. And Madonna, Jamiroquai, and Marvin were all doing it thousands of times better. People should really be outraged over Robing Thicke stealing Marvin's "Got to Give It Up" and presenting it as his own. Fucker.

    Fuck, I just realized how great Johnny Cash is. Again.

    Poetry. Remember when poets were the unacknowledged legislators of the world? (That was Shelley, btw.) Now it's stand-up comedians. Or somebody.

  21. Sypha

    Dennis, well, I once tried to evoke Pan in my bedroom a decade ago by dancing around naked while blasting Coil's song "Panic" and rubbing leaves on my body. All that happened though was I got dizzy and fell over. H'mm, no, don't think I've ever done air guitar, though I have air drummed, so that's something.

  22. tomkendall

    hey man,
    Just wanted to drop in and say i've been lurking and this post and the scrapbook posts have been awesome.

    Also congrats to Thomas Moronic on his book! That's amazing.

    I'm in miami, anyone got any tips on places to go/things to see? Quite keen on seeing the coral castle.

  23. steevee

    Misanthrope, how do you feel about the Weeknd borrowing Portishead's "Machine Gun" and adding new vocals? If the Weeknd are telling the truth, they didn't sample Portishead, but programmed a drum machine track that sounds identical. It's kind of a dick move, but I have to admit that the Weeknd's "Belong to the World" rocks.

  24. Misanthrope

    steevee, I'll have to look at the song. If it was totally unintentional, as they say, I guess it's…kind of okay.

    I have this real problem with people ripping other people off. Influence I understand. Homage I understand. Even sampling -which is very upfront about what it's all about and pays royalties- I understand. But just ripping somebody the fuck off? Nah, I can't handle that.

    And from what I've read, Thicke, who admits "Blurred Lines" came about while listening to the Marvin Gaye song, pre-emptively sued the Gaye family/estate to keep them from suing him or something like that. Talk about a dick move (if that is indeed the case, of course).

    For example, I wrote something once -I really can't remember what it was, but it was a scene in a story I was working on- and about two weeks after completing it, I realized, "Fuck, Dennis had an almost exact scene like that in one of his books!" So I went back and took it out of my story.

    So yeah, I understand unintentionally stealing something, in that you write something and then realize later it was very much like something that had influenced you before. But you take it out, in my opinion. Just like I think The Weekend, if they realized before releasing the song that it sounded just like the Portishead song, probably should've kept it off their album. But that's just me.

  25. steevee

    Misa, would you be OK with "Blurred Lines" if Thicke and Pharrell sampled "Got To Give It Up" and paid royalties to the Gaye estate?

    Kanye West's "Black Skinhead" is another song that sounds almost identical to another one: the opening of Marilyn Manson's "Beautiful People." Yet West is not shy about (legally) sampling from an eclectic range of artists and seems to have a huge budget for it, and he claims that "Black Skinhead" is not sampled from Manson's song.

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