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Making Your Own Days: The Pleasures of Reading and Writing Poetry
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Making Your Own Days: The Pleasures of Reading and Writing Poetry

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  310 ratings  ·  24 reviews
From one of the most esteemed American poets of the twenty-first century comes a celebration of poetry and an invitation for anyone to experience its beauty and wonder.

Full of fresh and exciting insights, Making Your Own Days illuminates the somewhat mysterious subject of poetry for those who read it and for those who write it—as well as for those who would like to read an
Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 8th 1999 by Atria Books
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4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  310 ratings  ·  24 reviews

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Mar 21, 2016 rated it liked it
Kenneth Koch is one of my favorite poets. His poems are wild, funny, full of heart and mud. For me, he's the voice of the New York School par excellence. It's his writing which brought us Dean Young.

But this book has almost none of his fire or originality. Partially, the issue is that I was expecting something slightly different---this is a book for BEGINNING poets. I'm not saying that in a haughty way. I still have a ton of things highlighted, and I am ready to learn from anyone or anything. B
Jul 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Oh, the pleasures of a good poem...

In truth, I've long been mystified/frustrated/put off by poetry. But over the years, an urge to understand, or at least better appreciate, what all the fuss has been about these last 3000 years has tugged at me. My only formal experiences of poetry study were in high school (in the appreciation mode) and college (1 course, in the academic mode). The former came at too early a point in my aesthetic/intellectual development, and made no greater impression on me t
Jun 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
The title of Koch’s book comes from 2 lines in Frank O’Hara’s poem, “A True Account of Talking to the Sun at Fire Island”. The book contains three sections; the first is a series of essays on the language of poetry, with essays on subjects such as meter, rhyme, contrast, and personification. Koch believes that poetry is a “separate language”, and he states that the sound of the words is as important as the meaning.

The second part is a series of essays on writing and reading poetry. Koch talks a
Alec Longstreth
Aug 07, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
This was a very dense, difficult read for me. It helped me understand why some people enjoy modern poetry, and why certain conventions are in use, or were important developments at the time, but I'm also almost certain that it also cemented my dislike of all modern poetry. I'm going to stick to light verse and poetry for kids from here on out!
Sep 10, 2014 added it
Reading this for my thesis on teaching poetry to ESL students. More Koch forthcoming. He's kind of hella conservative in some ways “to be poetry it has to be musical” ummmmm … but seems to love Ashbery, so that's cool. Very useful for thinking about teaching poetry, lots of "categories" but I probably wouldn't read this for pleasure...
Emma Aylor
Aug 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the first half of this book, and it's a great resource for teaching beginning poetry (particularly "The Two Languages" and the explanations of rhythm and meter). However, the anthology section is clearly biased toward the basic Western canon (for example, only 13 of the 65 poets in the anthology section, by my count, are women), so I don't find it particularly useful as a resource.
Jason Custer
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
I've always wanted to enjoy poetry more, and this was suggested to me by a friend. I have very little experience with poetry, but I found it a great introduction. Perhaps the best thing is that it introduces aspects of reading poetry then the second half of the book is an anthology of dozens of poems with a short note on each explaining and illustrating the things mentioned in the first half. For me, that was very helpful and gave me a chance to put to practice reading poetry and enjoying it.
Simon Böhm
Oct 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Decent enough introduction. Not as comprehensive as I hoped, but the anthology is well selected.
Jun 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry

A while back JM wrote about five books that changed her, inspired by a post here.

I revisited Kenneth Koch's Making Your Own Days and would classify this as a book that changed me. It made me realize(?), recognize(?), remember(?) that I love poetry.

I read first two parts of the book as coursework in college. Koch takes Paul Valéry's idea that poetry is a "language within a language" and runs with it. Poetry is a language in which the sound of words is as im
Sep 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: re-reading
I read this for a course taught by the author that, of course, closely followed the book. That course has had such an influence on me over the years and I recently decided to give the book a re-read. I think this would be a good book for people who have never liked poetry but maybe wish they could. I have enjoyed it for thinking about life in general in more poetic terms and for helping with writing my own. It seeks to lay out for you what it is like to be in the head of a poet writing a poem, w ...more
Dec 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: poets
Shelves: writing
i found this book immensely helpful in facilitating my understanding of the rhythm and musicality of free verse poetry. koch's down-to-earth explanations really helped me get an intellectual grasp on what i was already doing intuitively in my own work. joining the two together--intellect and intuition--is, i think, key to both improved writing and a greater enjoyment of the craft. koch's book provides the poet with just that--the means to improve and enjoy his/her writing--and he does so through ...more
Sep 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
I like Kenneth Koch. And he makes me want to read more poetry. Also: this book is pure gold for teaching undergraduates about writing poems. Big ideas stated clearly and with a sense of humor. I've never been so excited to read sections of Wordsworth! (By the way, I wish that was my last name. Peter Wordsworth. That's who I want to be).
Mar 15, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfic
Koch talks a little too much here, kind of obscuring the power of what he's saying by going on about rhyme schemes and Dante, but he has tons of good solid ideas, so I'll just excerpt him and forget about hard feelings.
Apr 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I read the library copy but I'll probably buy my own. Kenneth Koch has been a long-time favorite of mine in the poetry teaching department - I love the attention he pays to the music of poetry, as well as his erudition, his intelligence and his straightforward style. A treasure reference book.
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Probably the best (definitely the clearest) introduction to reading poetry that I've read (and I've read a few). I'd recommend it to the uninitiated or inexperienced reader or would-be writer of poetry. Koch's accompanying anthology of poems (with commentary on each one) is a delight.
Amanda Bryan
Aug 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
wonderful anthology of poetry is the last half of the book (multiple versions of translated poems)
Jul 27, 2007 added it
Recommends it for: john ashbery
first time i understood what meter is sort of what is it
Jan 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: school
I hate this.
Michael Shilling
Oct 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
Seeing as poets are the priests of the invisible, their houses of worship are too. But Koch pours a bit sweet bag of critical sugar on top of it so we non-poets can at least see the outlines.
Joseph Gascho
Great book for me
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Koch's Poetry 1 7 Dec 02, 2009 05:02PM  
  • Can Poetry Matter?: Essays on Poetry and American Culture
  • The Life of Poetry
  • Writing Poems
  • Real Sofistikashun: Essays on Poetry and Craft
  • The Practice of Poetry: Writing Exercises From Poets Who Teach
  • The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing
  • Cooling Time: An American Poetry Vigil
  • Poetic Meter and Poetic Form
  • The Norton Anthology of Modern & Contemporary Poetry, Vol 1: Modern Poetry
  • Best Words, Best Order: Essays on Poetry
  • In the Palm of Your Hand: A Poet's Portable Workshop
  • The Open Door: One Hundred Poems, One Hundred Years of "Poetry" Magazine
  • Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words
  • The Collected Prose
  • Western Wind: An Introduction to Poetry
  • The Best American Poetry 2010
  • Close Calls With Nonsense: Reading New Poetry
  • Cocktails
Kenneth Koch is most often recognized as one of the four most prominent poets of the 1950s-1960s poetic movement "the New York School of Poetry" along with Frank O'Hara, John Ashbery and James Schuyler. The New York School adopted the avant-garde movement in a style often called the "new" avant-garde, drawing on Abstract Expressionism, French surrealism and stream-of-consciousness writing in the a ...more