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Jacket 15 — December 2001   |   # 15  Contents   |   Homepage   |   Catalog   |

Hazel Smith

Talking with Kenneth

          For Kenneth Koch

An interviewer is a not-anybody who is bothering a somebody
it was July 30th, Long Island, 1986
an acerbic summer day
and I recollect that Kenneth
tall, grey and terrifyingly ironic
had a hole in his shirt the size of a poem 

from my b and b I’d been calling
O’Hara henchmen all day
depressing since none of them wanted to know me
although when my “hostess” found out
Larry Rivers was one of my suspects
she kept rushing round me
with butter and bagels

all summer I’d been deep in
back-to-front myths, upside-down gossip
traversing the city with
east-west perspectives

they remain twin towers
though I wish now I’d talked to
Kenneth re Kenneth as much as re Frank
because that day I discovered that
Kenneth is charismatic, kinetic
the cool king of poets and critics
and talking with Kenneth
is cutting (edge)

but I was younger and more naïve then
hacking my way through my list of questions
hoping to blitz the New York of the fifties
the more I tried the less I seemed able

until earlier this year an email emission
bounced news from Olivier Brossard
he had found the interview transcript
I assumed Kenneth had trashed, burnt or buried 
breathing again in a New York library
you never know what the past is inventing
or who is pulling your thoughts from the rubble

and valuing them
because no view is panoramic
time naturally strips mirrors
and silly ideas can make sassy poems
reflects Kenneth

Jacket 15 — December 2001  Contents page
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