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June 21, 2012


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Great stuff. "You're amazing!" Was KK -- or Vitamin K, as JA once called him -- yr teacher at Columbia? I studied with him "back in the day." Re "The Art of the Possible": The second to last thing he said to me (when I saw him a month before he died) was, "Get my poetry comics published, David." Would you like to know the last? -- DL

yes please

Yes he was my beloved teacher and friend. I scanned these from a manuscript Jeni Olin gave me. She found them among some of Larry River's papers. She thought I would do something with them but A of P had already been published.

Btw, would have put spaces between the comics had I known how.

What did he say??? He was my favorite.

We got THE ART OF THE POSSIBLE by KK published by SoftSkull Books in Brooklyn in 2003. I wrote an intro for the book.
-- DL

The last thing Kenneth said to me, as we were leaving his house in Bridgehampton, was, "And don't call me 'Doctor Fun' when you write my obituary." Very Kenneth: an order, a negative imperative, founded on an unsentimental certainty. Doctor Fun was a nickname Ashbery gave him when they were in their 20s. Kenneth hated it, as I found out when my essay on him appeared under that title in "American Poetry Review" in 1995 or '96. It would have been a good chapter title in my book on the NY School. But I'm happy with "The Pleasures of Poetry." Peace. -- DL

He was the funniest man I've ever known and so concerned with being taken seriously, which is maybe why the reaction to Dr. Fun. I remember him talking about just starting out as a teacher and that he was too funny. It got in the way of the teaching...You have done so much, David, in this respect. His poetry is taken pretty seriously.The Pleasures of Poetry! You're Amazing!

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

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Ringfinger was nervous
Pinky terrified
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that Hand might succumb
to the rule of Thumb.



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