№12 2022

УДК / UDK: 821.111


Author: Ian Probstein
About the author:

Ian Probstein, PhD, Professor of language and literature, Touro College, 50 West 47th Street, 12th Fl., NY 10036 New York, USA.


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The article explores the influence of European and Russian Literature on the poets of the Second American Avant-Gard and The New York School, as was coined by John Myers, the artistic director of the Tibor de Nagy Gallery, as David Lehman stated in The Last Avant- Garde. The Making of New York School of Poets [Lehman 1999: 24–25]. The paper mainly focuses on the work of the first generation of the New York School: John Ashbery (1927–2017), Frank O’Hara (1926–1966), Kenneth Koch (1925–2002), and James Schuyler (1923–1991), who edited the first and the last issues of the literary magazine Locus Solus, published by the “quartet” of the aforementioned poets. Their poetry was marked by unexpected comparisons and juxtapositions, collages and pseudotranslations. At first, they drew heavily on Apollinaire, cubists, surrealists, but each of the original four developed his unique style. Alongside Apollinaire and French Surrealists, the works of Mayakovsky and Pasternak were central to the New York School poets. For example, the very title of Ashbery’s book Some Trees was an allusion to Boris Pasternak’s 1922 manifesto “Some Statements,” which was (mis)translated into English as “Some Trees.” In Frank O’Hara’s poems there are allusions not only to his beloved Mayakovsky but, most importantly, to Rachmaninoff and other composers. O’Hara developed syncretic and synthetic poetry, combining sound, color, music, and painting, as in his poem “On Rachmaninoff’s Birthday.” In Kenneth Koch’s poems there are allusions to Victor Shklovsky’s Third Factory and in Koch’s later long poem Possible World (2002), we can trace both Mayakovsky’s and Khlebnikov’s influence.

Keywords: American poetry, Russian literature, The New York school of poets, John Ashbery, allusions, Avant-Garde, Modernism, Surrealism, Cubism, collage, syncretism, synthetism
For citation:

Probstein, Ian. “European and Russian Literature and the Poets of the Second American Avant-Guard / The New York School.” Literature of the Americas, no. 12 (2022): 51–65.  


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