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On the Edge is a collection of the six longer masterpieces by one of the most beloved and accomplished poets of our time.
Full of exclamation and exaggeration but also graced with dry wit and comic sophistication, these poems contain some of Kenneth Koch’s most original work. When the Sun Tries to Go On is a young man’s radical song of himself and his freshly discovered and expanding universe. Ko, or A Season on Earth is an epic invention filled with such memorably powerful characters as a rookie baseball star whose pitches knock down grandstands, and Joseph Dah, whose poems transform him into whatever he writes about. In The Duplications Koch’s inventions expand into Ovidian twists as Commander Papend builds a life-sized replica of Venice in Peru and a chemist discovers a way to make young women out of the soil of Finland. In the elegiac Seasons on Earth and in two meditative autobiographical sequences, Impressions of Africa and On the Edge, Koch’s protean expressions of emotion make obvious his genius for evoking the mystery and excitement of the fact of existence and the passage of time.
Distinctly and irrepressibly Koch throughout, these works heighten our appreciation of his achievement. On the Edge is the perfect companion volume to the critically acclaimed Collected Poems of Kenneth Koch, about which John Ashbery, in Publishers Weekly, said, “The products of a lifetime are on display in this awe-inspiring banquet of a book.”
“No American poet over the last half-century wrote with as much antic and anarchic gusto as Kenneth Koch: In the grand tradition of fast-talking funnymen from Aristophanes to Groucho, his boisterous brand of comedy was a natural byproduct of his exuberant audacity. Who says serious poetry has to be solemn?” —The Boston Globe