THE ART OF LOVE by Kenneth Koch


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If you remember your Horace, or whoever, you'd better go brush up on Kenneth Koch, either his early poetry like Thank You or his work teaching children how to delight and surprise--his prime poetic objectives. When a grown man does it at the length of the five poems here, three sent up from classical set pieces, it begins to sound like an exceptionally wonderful stand-up routine--what Lenny Bruce might have done if he'd been born in Connecticut. In the title poem there are instructions for using tape tabs to nail your gift to the wall, fine silliness parodying decadent romanticism (and only objectionable in straighter, more condescendingly sentimental moments). In a list of ""General Instructions,"" along with ""The numbers seven and eleven are important to remember in dice"" and ""Get faucets,"" we are told not to ""be defeated by the/ Feeling there is too much for you to know. That/ Is a myth of the oppressor."" That is fairly typical of Koch's humor, though not as wild or as sophisticated as it can get, and not conveying the lovely spill-over of hig thoughts and lines. Delightful if you like it at all, especially ""On Beauty"" and ""The Art of Poetry,"" if you don't expect the poems to stay in shape or needle the soul.

Pub Date: May 28th, 1975
Publisher: Random House