Kent Johnson, on the Isola blog, writes,
On 9/4/10, Richard Owens, poet and publisher of Punch Press, soon to release A Question Mark above the Sun: Documents on the Mystery Surrounding a Famous Poem “by” Frank O’Hara,received a certified letter from The Kenneth Koch Literary Estate. The letter unambiguously threatens “legal action” against the book.
The letter states, in part, that “Alfred A. Knopf (publisher of both
Koch and O’Hara), Maureen Granville-Smith, executor of the Frank O’Hara
Estate, and poets Bill Berkson, Ron Padgett, Jordan Davis, and Tony
Towle [ . . . ] all are strongly convinced that this publication is a
malicious hoax, one that denigrates Kenneth Koch’s character and
dishonors his work.”
For more from Kent Johnson, link here.
Michael Hansen, in the"Digital Emunction" blog writes
For some reason unclear to me, the letter threatening this [legal] action invokes several poets – Jordan Davis, a frequent visitor here, among them. Do Ron Padgett and [Jordan] Davis’s testimony against Johnson’s speculations mean something, juridically speaking? I really am confused. (Maybe Jordan can fill us in.)
I don't know the "juridical" implications, but the fact that the poets Bill Berkson, Ron Padgett, Jordan Davis, and Tony Towle joined Maureen Granville-Smith and the publishing firm of Alfred A. Knopf is surely pertinent. Knopf publishes both Koch and O'Hara. Granville-Smith is Frank O'Hara's sister and the executor of his estate. Kenneth Koch entrusted his literary estate and legacy to a trio of persons including Padgett and Davis. Berkson was on very close terms with O'Hara, who addressed numerous poems to him. Towle studied with both O'Hara and Koch. These are serious individuals with a serious literary responsibility. If anyone is in a position to judge the case, it is they.
The suggestion that Koch wrote a celebrated O'Hara poem is not quite as harmless as some would maintain. For one thing, there is no history of rivalry and distrust between Koch [right] and O'Hara [above] and those who admire them. This is a point worth making, and it is made in the mere fact that Berkson, Davis, Padgett, and Towle have banded together. Why would they join in support of a legal action? I will ask Tony Towle to comment. But resisting the falsification of history would be reason enough to take up legal arms. There is a difference between engaging in speculation and passing off a fake, of course. The latter would make a liar of Koch and would deny O'Hara one of his triumphs. -- DL