Koch and Ginsberg: Popeye fights William Blake, 1979

Kenneth Koch and Allen Ginsberg
Popeye fights William Blake, 1979


This is an eight-minute edited MP3 recording of a good-natured (indeed, hilarious) rhyming contest between Kenneth Koch and Allen Ginsberg at St Mark’s Poetry Project, New York City, 9 May 1979. The form chosen for the tale of Popeye’s titanic clash with the great English poet William Blake was the ballad, and each contestant had to improvise alternate rhyming lines in real time in front of a live audience.

Koch’s quick wit and ample rhymes easily defeated Allen Ginsberg’s slower wit and goofy good nature; the winner was really the Saint Mark’s audience, who had the time of their lives, though both poets evidently had a wonderful time as well.

MP3 follows:

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