Anyone in the business of teaching writing will enjoy this book published way back in the seventies. Kenneth Koch taught poetry writing to inhabitants of an old people’s home, people who had worked hard at poorly-paid jobs all their lives, hadn’t read much, and certainly had never thought of themselves as poets. Here are some of their poems.
I know why the north country is frozen.
It has been trying to preserve your memory.
I know why the desert burns with fever.
It wept too long without you.
On hands and knees the ocean begs up the beach
And falls at your feet. William Ross
The Quietest Thing
The quietest thing in my life was after plowing acres of corn
then overlooking the work I did and seeing if my row was straight.
I was up on the hill with nobody but me then
And no birds making a sound. William Ross
The End of The War
I was crying and laughing and singing
And throwing things through the streets
Throwing things from happiness
To make a noise!
The church bells were singing
They were hitting the wash boilers
And people were allowed to shoot off guns
It’s impossible to tell it all
Fire bells were ringing
It was like a fire of happiness
Without the fire. Mary Tkalec
Kenneth Koch: I Never Told Anybody: Teaching Poetry Writing in a Nursing Home