Kafka Was the Rage

NB: Paper Cut Flophouse was a group blog that ran in the late aughts. Most posts were written by two contributors: me, using the pseudonym Roman Briton, and my friend Pompeston, the mastermind of the endeavor. This is a cross-posting of a post I originally wrote for PCFH; here’s a link to the original.

“The competition was friendly, laced with admiration and respect, but it was as fierce as only a match between close friends can be, and it brought out the best in them […] It was, in fact, competition as much as collaboration that linked Ashbery and O’Hara and Schuyler and Koch so tightly that they acquired a group identity with a collective force. ‘Collaboration, a direct extension of O’Hara’s mode of living, is a good metaphor for the manner of his relationships–an intimate competition in which each participant goads the other toward being at his best,’ the poet and art critic Peter Schjeldahl perceptively noted. Or as Koch advised the young poets who came to him for instruction at Columbia, ‘Have some friends who are so good it scares you.'”

–from David Lehman’s The Last Avant-Garde: The Making of the New York School of Poets, p. 71 (in chapter two, “Band of Rivals”)

Note also, in the author interviews on the One Story site, Andrew Foster Altschul‘s answer to the question on writing advice and the importance of having friends who are also writers, as well as Kelly Link‘s answer to the same question, about the importance of having friends who are not writers (or rather, friends whose lives are melodramatic; I’m jumping to the conclusion that writing and melodrama are mutually exclusive, which was certainly not the case with the New York School).