PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
News and Notes
Digital Access to PN Review
Access the latest issues, plus back issues of PN Review with Exact Editions For PN Review subscribers: access the PN Review digital archive via the Exact Editions app Exactly or the Exact Editions website, you will first need to know your PN Review ID number. read more
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Gratis Ad 1
Monthly Carcanet Books
Next Issue Thomas Kinsella in conversation Jeffrey Wainwright comes to grips with St Chad Hsien Min Toh gives us a Korean perspective Iain Bamforth on Lou and Fritz: Sensible Shoes meets Starstruck Judith Bishop on Love and Self-Understanding in an Algorythmic Age

This interview is taken from PN Review 106, Volume 22 Number 2, November - December 1995.

In Conversation with Kenneth Koch David Herd

The interview took place in Kenneth Koch's New York apartment on Tuesday 18 April 1995. This is an edited transcript of the conversation.

DAVID HERD: Who were the first poets you read?

kenneth koch: The first time that I remember being influenced by poetry, beyond being influenced by the form of poetry itself, was when I was fifteen. One of my uncles took me down to the family business and opened up a big safe and showed me some of the poems he'd written when he was nineteen years old, and he gave me a big book of Shelley. It was a hard-cover book with, I remember, a red cover and a picture of Shelley with long hair and an open collar, the collected poems of Shelley, which I still have. And I immediately started writing poems which I thought were in the style of Shelley. I realised later that my poems weren't much like Shelley, but they had sort of a Shelleyan attitude. I was standing there in the midst of all space, time and history, evoking things, and saying thee and thou. Then the next big effect on my work from other writers came when I was seventeen when I read an anthology, edited by Louis Untermeyer, of modem British and American poetry. I remember being influenced by lots of people in that anthology. And then I also started going to the library and taking out books of poetry. I remember being influenced ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image