Koethe, John (Louis) 1945-

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KOETHE, John (Louis) 1945-

PERSONAL: Surname is pronounced Kay-tee; born December 25, 1945, in San Diego, CA; son of John Louis (a naval career officer) and Sara (Mehrer) Koethe; married Susan Muench (a research immunologist), September 1, 1968. Education: Princeton University, A.B., 1967; Harvard University, Ph.D., 1973.

ADDRESSES: Home—2666 North Hackett Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53211. Office—Department of Philosophy, University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI 53211.

CAREER: University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee, assistant professor of philosophy, 1973—.

AWARDS, HONORS: Poet's Foundation Award, 1969; Frank O'Hare Award, 1973, for Domes; Kingsley Tufts Award, 1997, for Falling Water.


Blue Vents (poems), Audit/Poetry, 1969.

Domes (poems), Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 1973.

The Late Wisconsin Spring, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1984.

The Continuity of Wittgenstein's Thought, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 1996.

Falling Water (poems), HarperPerennial (New York, NY), 1997.

The Constructor (poems), HarperFlamingo (New York, NY), 1999.

Poetry at One Remove (essays), University of Michigan Press (Ann Arbor, MI), 2000.

North Point North: New and Selected Poems, Harper-Collins (New York, NY), 2002.

Contributor of poems and articles to Poetry, Paris Review, Quarterly Review of Literature, Parnassus, and Art News.

SIDELIGHTS: John Koethe has published several award-winning volumes of poetry. Many critics place him in the tradition of Wallace Stevens and John Ashbery, or, as Robert Huddleston noted in the ChicagoReview, "poets who used landscape as a figure or setpiece through which to address an array of concerns from the personal to the social." Koethe is also a professor of philosophy at the University of Wisconsin, and his works include Domes, The Late Wisconsin Spring, Falling Water, and North Point North. He has also authored a collection of essays about poetry, Poetry at One Remove, as well as the academicallyoriented The Continuity of Wittgenstein's Thought.

Falling Water, which saw print in 1997, garnered Koethe the Kingsley Tufts Award and marked a widening of the poet's critical acclaim. The title poem of the collection takes its name from one of the famed buildings of architect Frank Lloyd Wright in Illinois. As Huddleston explained, "Wright's Prairie-style has affinities with Koethe's verse in its austere conventions, emphasis on horizontal . . . movement, . . . and in its tendency to go in multiple directions and explore the nuances of a shape." Huddleston went on to praise most of the other poems in Falling Water as well, noting that "when Koethe is on, and he often is in this new volume, he can show us as few other contemporary poets can into an oneiric world of magnificent austerity." Similarly, Janet St. John in Booklist observed that Koethe's poems "have much to offer the patient, careful reader." Huddleston concluded that the best of Falling Water "renovates the familiar in the collective social and personal landscape, exposing its particular histories, making it new, returning it to strangeness, which is the proper place for poetry."

Koethe followed Falling Water with The Constructor in 1999. A Publishers Weekly critic reviewing the volume noted that the poet's "sense of how imagination affects memory lends poignancy to his meditations." The title poem of The Constructor also appears in Koethe's 2002 collection, North Point North. North Point North also includes poetry from Koethe's previous collections, as well as several examples of new verse. Donna Seaman praised the volume in Booklist as "commodious and entrancing."



The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry in English, edited by Ian Hamilton, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 1994.


Booklist, September 1, 1997, Janet St. John, review of Falling Water, p. 53; July 2002, Donna Seaman, review of North Point North, pp. 1815-1816.

Chicago Review, fall, 1997, Robert Huddleston, review of Falling Water, pp. 158-160.

Publishers Weekly, March 29, 1999, review of The Constructor, p. 98; June 17, 2002, review of North Point North, p. 58.


OnMilwaukee,http://www.onmilwaukee.com/ (July 17, 2002), interview with John Koethe.*