"I am an idealistic, naive, passionate, truth-seeking, spiritually motivated artist, unschooled in the science of law and finance." --Wesley Snipes

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Dr. Mayhew

Jonathan, on my Kenneth Koch post below:

I have to disagree: I think the dominant mood in Koch is a kind of anxious hilarity. There's a disquieting restlessness in his work from start to beginning. Frustration, misunderstanding, vulnerability, anxiety, and anger are just a few of the negative emotions in his work I can think of right off the top of my head. Sure, it can be a manic pick-me-up in times of depression, but did it occur to you that he was doing that to himself, too? In other words, the same thing you were looking for in your reading of him, he was doing for himself by writing these poems?

Thanks Jonathan. I was feeling a little cranky and not very intellectually rigorous when I wrote that post. I agree that, especially in the later work, from the mid-70s on, anxiety, wistfulness, resignation begin to become dominant moods in his work. But still--my point--one that you make for me--should have been that humor, for me, has always been an antidote to deep feelings of depression or inadequacy. It's when my life is the messiest that I laugh the most. And it did and does occur to me that Koch was probably looking for the same thing in writing the poems as I was in reading them. My frustration then, is not with Koch, but with myself.

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