Kenneth Koch on the New York poets



Being together so much
and talking so much
and writing poems
and showing them to each other so much
and telling each other what to read so much
and all of that,
we were a little bit,
I suppose, like the members of a team,
like the Yankees or the Minnesota Vikings.

We inspired each other,
we envied each other,
we emulated each other,
we were very critical of each other,
we admired each other,
we were almost entirely dependent on each other for support.

Each had to be better than the others
but if one flopped
we all did.

I’ve loved other writers
but I haven’t known them.

They weren’t there,
at the bar
or in the studio
or on the phone;

they weren’t fellow Vikings,
shoving me around.

(Kenneth Koch, The Art of Poetry, 1996, pp. 213-4).


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