The Banquet

Plays, films, and librettos by Kenneth Koch

July 16, 2013 • Paperback Original • 6 x 9 • 634 pages • 978-1-56689-329-9

The complete plays, including never before published work, from one of the major writers of the twentieth century.

Kenneth Koch was a prominent American poet of the New York School and one of America’s most diversely talented writers. The Banquet celebrates his work as an avant-garde playwright, gathering 144 plays, ten screenplays, and five librettos spanning more than five decades of experimental work. Koch’s dramatic work was produced in New York—both Off Broadway and Off, Off Broadway—and in opera houses in the United States and Europe. Witty and provocative, and drawing on poetry, improvisational comedy, satire, Japanese Noh and Kabuki theater, Renaissance drama, and miracle plays, Koch’s work has a deft, humane touch, ranging from the playful to the sublime.

About the Author

Kenneth Koch (1925 – 2002), known for his association with the New York School of poetry, wrote many collections of poetry, fictions, plays, and nonfiction. His books include Seasons on Earth, On the Edge, Thank You and Other Poems, The Art of Love, One Thousand Avant-Garde Plays, Hotel Lambosa, and Collected Fiction, as well as several books on teaching children to write poetry. Koch was awarded numerous honors, including the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry, awarded by the Library of Congress in 1996, as well as awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Fulbright, Guggenheim, and Ingram-Merrill foundations. In 1996 he was inducted as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Thanks to a 2013 ADA Access Improvement Grant administered by VSA Minnesota for the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, this title is also formatted for screen readers which make text accessible to the blind and visually impaired. To purchase this title for use with a screen reader please call (612) 338-0125 or email us at info@coffeehousepress.org.


The Banquet succeeds in spades, giving us an entire ‘world of pure experience,’ to borrow William James’s phrase, one that is just waiting to be brought to life.” Los Angeles Review of Books

“Some writers excel in more than one form. . . . The 600-plus pages of The Banquet suggest that the late poet Kenneth Koch had two right hands.” New York Observer

“The plays abolish time and space . . . If we lived in Koch’s Arcady, the text seems to ask, might we live forever?” Poetry Magazine

“[These plays] are as funny and inventive as Koch could be. Count him among the few to move beyond Gertrude Stein in establishing alternative performance texts.” Rain Taxi Review

“This is theater in which each sentence is a small occasion. Kenneth Koch’s plays are animated by the same spirit in which the ceilings of the stages of Shakespeare’s time were painted with the sun, moon, and stars; looking at a stage, he saw not a living room but the world, which included not only the kinds of human relations that seemed to preoccupy much of the drama of his day but philosophy and religion, the birth and death of civilizations, existence in time and space, and the blessedly dumb and trivial, too. Koch has laid out a banquet, to be sure, and we had better come in and sit down. As one of his latecomers sings, ‘Our revels now begin.’” —Amber Reed, from the introduction

“These are plays that indeed play with the practice of play writing and play-making, that taken altogether as a body of work, pose a rather substantial challenge to play writing as usual. But if a tease is a challenge, then there is another aspect to the game: The implied offer of a seduction.” —Mac Wellman, from the foreword

“Koch’s plays . . . give a peculiarly succinct and eloquent form to his enormously animated conception of things.” —F. W. Dupee

“These are bursts of charming joy, mystery, surprise and delight animated by a love of language and a deep belief in its possibilities . . . The Banquet is the perfect title for this collection, a book to be read and reread.” BODY