Monday, September 06, 2010

Update: Kent Johnson’s A Question Mark

A Rather Stunning Update on A Question Mark above the Sun

On 9/4/10, Richard Owens, poet and publisher of Punch Press, soon to release A Question Mark above the Sun: Documents on the Mystery Surrounding a Famous Poem “by” Frank O’Hara, received a certified letter from The Kenneth Koch Literary Estate. The letter unambiguously threatens “legal action” against the book.

The letter states, in part, that “Alfred A. Knopf (publisher of both Koch and O’Hara), Maureen Granville-Smith, executor of the Frank O’Hara Estate, and poets Bill Berkson, Ron Padgett, Jordan Davis, and Tony Towle [ . . . ] all are strongly convinced that this publication is a malicious hoax, one that denigrates Kenneth Koch’s character and dishonors his work.”

Those named above are also listed in a “Copies” note at the bottom of the letter.
I was going to write a lengthy post here at Isola di Rifiuti, discussing some fairly evident things concerning 1) the very lamentable implications of this development, 2) the utter misrepresentation of the book’s nature (in the quote above), and 3) why the listed poets, if they are indeed some kind of party to this letter, should hide their faces in shame.

But I’m going to just let the book speak, at this point.

The fine-press, limited edition of A Question Mark above the Sun will appear in a few weeks. It will be shortly followed by a substantially larger trade edition.

—Kent Johnson