This book is specifically for high school students, though it is useful to college students and anyone interested in the art and craft of poetry. Koch and Farrell, experienced teachers as well as poets, write about poetry in such a way that students will find it accessible and interesting. The book includes selections of poetry by twenty-three poets, among them Dickinson, Hopkins, Pound, Williams and Eliot, as well as Ginsberg, O'Hara, Baraka and Ashbery. There is also the translated work of such modern European poets such as Lorca, Rilke, Rimbaud, Apollinaire and Mayakowsky.
Kenneth Koch has published many volumes of poetry, including New Addresses, Straits and One Train. He was awarded the Bollingen Prize for Poetry in 1995, in 1996 he received the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry awarded by the Library of Congress, and he received the first Phi Beta Kappa Poetry award in November of 2001. His short plays, many of them produced off- and off-off-Broadway, are collected in The Gold Standard: A Book of Plays. He has also written several books about poetry, including Wishes, Lies, and Dreams; Rose, Where Did You Get That Red?; and, most recently, Making Your Own Days: The Pleasures of Reading and Writing Poetry. He taught undergraduates at Columbia University for many years. He passed away in 2002.
Kate Farrell began collaborating with Kenneth Koch while still his student at Columbia University, working as his fellow teacher in the Nursing Home project on which his book I Never Told Anybody is based. After graduating, she taught poetry in high schools in the NY State Poets in the Schools Program, a key inspiration for Sleeping on the Wing. Koch and Farrell also co-authored Talking to the Sun, an anthology for young people, illustrated by works from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Farrell went on to assemble four more anthologies of poetry matched with art for the Metropolitan Museum and the National Gallery. She has taught imaginative writing at Columbia University and her poetry has appeared in many journals, including Poetry, Partisan Review, Hudson Review and Harvard Review. Her work was also chosen for three recent editions of The Best Spiritual Writing series.
"Conversational ease, technical expertise and inspiring enthusiasm make the book a marvel." Newsweek
"When two fine poets get together and produce a work on the criticism and appreciation of modern poetry the result is more than likely to be first-rate. And so it is with Sleeping on the Wing." Independent Press Telegram
"Sensible introductory material, short readable essays on the poets, and stimulating suggestions for writing complement the selections beautifully. Aside from being a useful classroom text, this would make a first rate introduction for those who wish to explore poetry on their own." The Library Journal
"A significant contribution to both the criticism and appreciation of modern poetry. . . . This innovative book make poetry interesting and accessible even to uninitiated readers and shows them how to write poetry themselves." The Chapel Hill Newspaper
"In an age when most poetry criticism reads like the fine print on your federal tax form, Kenneth Koch and Kate Farrell have put together a clear and highly accessible introductory anthology. . . . Koch and Farrell demystify poetry and provide the reader with a number of ways to approach it. . . . Anyone with an interest in contemporary writing should know this book." Indianapolis Star