Branching Out Milwaukee: Ron Padgett on Frank O'Hara and Kenneth Koch
In 1949 Harvard undergraduate John Ashbery wrote to Kenneth Koch about the poetry of a fellow student, Frank O'Hara: "I think we have a major competitor." Shortly thereafter Ashbery sent Koch a manuscript of O'Hara's poems, which Koch found not very interesting. But he took it with him when he went to France on a Fulbright and, when he read the manuscript again on a train ride through Austria, he was staggered by its dazzling energy. Thus began an inspiring, competitive literary friendship that helped both Koch and O'Hara become two of the greatest American poets of the 20th century.
A joint initiative with the Poetry Society of America, Branching Out: Poetry for the 21st Century is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.