The Last Avant-garde

The Last Avant-garde

The Making of the New York School of Poets

Book - 1998
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Baker & Taylor
Follows the emergence of four poets who recrafted American poetry and helped make New York the global center of the arts

& Taylor

The editor of the Best American Poetry series follows the emergence of four poets--John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch, James Schuyler, and Frank O'Hara--who recrafted American poetry and helped make New York the global center of the arts.

Publisher: New York : Doubleday, 1998
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780385475426
Branch Call Number: PS255.N5 L45 1998
Characteristics: 433 p., [16] p. of plates : ill. ; 24 cm


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Sep 11, 2017

With the recent passing of John Ashbery (He was 90!), the last member of the famed and influential New York School of poets is gone. While the group often included other writers and artists, the other three were Frank O'Hara, Kenneth Koch, and James Schyuler, perhaps the least known of the group. David Lehman's book is both a look at the men and their milieu, as well as a close read of their poetry. It excels at both and even if you're not a fan of poetry, its' a rich literary history. Incidentally, I was led to this book by Jim Jarmusch's film "Paterson," which is about a bus driver who writes poetry.

Jan 16, 2010

For anyone interested in modern American poetry, and John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch, and Frank O'Hara in particular, this is an informative and critically rigorous account (thankfully lacking the dry academic style) which relates them to their place in the history of the avant-garde, to their counterparts the New York painters, and against the backdrop of what was once a culturally (as opposed to a financial) NYC. The author is also a poet who was familiar in the scene. Along the way, diverse characters such as Auden, Allen Ginsberg, and Gregory Corso pop up to illuminate this or that point, and the entire book seems organically constructed, as it trips effortlessly through its subject. A very good read which presents a case for the impossibility of any more avant-garde movements in an era (now) which has learned to co-opt quick and early any sign of anti-authoritarian stance. Joyful and sad...


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