John Koethe

December 25, 1945

John Koethe is an American poet, essayist and professor of philosophy at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. Koethe is originally from San Diego, California. He was educated at Princeton University and Harvard University.Koethe's published work includes Blue Vents (Audit/Poetry, 1969), Domes (Columbia University Press, 1973), The Late Wisconsin Spring (Princeton University Press, 1984), The Continuity of Wittgenstein's Thought (Cornell University Press, 1996), Falling Water (HarperPerennial, 1997), The Constructor, (HarperFlamingo, 1999), Poetry at One Remove (University of Michigan Press, 2000) and North Point North: New and Selected Poems (HarperCollins, 2002). His most recent books include Scepticism, Knowledge, and Forms of Reasoning ...more

Average rating: 3.73 · 443 ratings · 67 reviews · 22 distinct worksSimilar authors
North Point North

4.35 avg rating — 37 ratings — published 2002 — 9 editions
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The Swimmer

3.86 avg rating — 42 ratings — published 2016 — 4 editions
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Falling Water

really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 32 ratings — published 1997 — 4 editions
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ROTC Kills

3.71 avg rating — 31 ratings — published 2012
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Ninety-fifth Street

3.76 avg rating — 29 ratings — published 2009 — 4 editions
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The Constructor

3.71 avg rating — 28 ratings — published 1999 — 9 editions
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Sally's Hair

3.74 avg rating — 27 ratings — published 2006 — 10 editions
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The Late Wisconsin Spring

4.30 avg rating — 10 ratings — published 1984 — 6 editions
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3.33 avg rating — 3 ratings — published 1973 — 2 editions
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Continuity of Wittgenstein'...

really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 1 rating — published 1996
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“It’s where you are in your imagination
That’s important, for the life of simply staying where you are
Is a shadow’s life, that leaves you by yourself, alone and scared.
Why can’t we just move on? The light up ahead is soft
And seems to beckon us, glowing with a promise of beginning
Once again, as if there were still time.”
John Koethe

“Argument in Isolation"

Premise: one exists alone,
Within a system of increasingly mild ideals
—The good of love, the greater good of dreams—
Abstracted from the musings of the grown-up child

That somewhere, in a scene above the sky,
Lies smiling. Anxious to begin
Before the will can answer and its passions fly away
Like sparrows, he lays aside his cares and

Lets the world come, lets its shapes return,
Its mirrors answer and its angels roam across the narrow
Confines of the page. Like friends
Estranged by distance and the inwardness of age,

The spaces between letters become spaces between lives,
The fact of pain begins to seem unreal, the trees
Begin to seem too distant; the imaginary self,
Concealed from the world, begins its cry

Yet remains empty—as though it could contain
No tenderness beyond its own, and no other love
Than that concealed in its own reflection, hovering
On the threshold of age, between two lives.

Premise: the world and the mind are one,
With a single splendor. And to By the way a
Street looked, or the way the light fell in a canyon,
Is to realize the way time feels in passing, as

The will to change becomes the effort to remember,
And then a passive sigh. An eidolon
Constructed out of air, grown out of nothing,
Planted at the center of a space shaped like the heart”
John Koethe, Falling Water

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