ROTC Kills by John Koethe

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“[A] visionary new book of poems and prose meditations.”
—Susan Stewart, author of Columbarium and Red Rover

“John Koethe’s poems…are profound meditations on time and the curious hold it has on the human psyche. In them, even the most extreme exertions of consciousness are transformed into the faultless measures of clear and beautiful speech.”
—American Academy of Arts and Letters

ROTC Kills is a lyrical and arresting new collection from renowned poet John Koethe, 2011 winner of the Arts and Letters Award and the Lenore Marshall Prize for the year’s outstanding work of poetry.  As typified by the provocative title piece—a wistful look back at the poet’s years at Harvard University in the late sixties—the poetry and prose within evoke the memories and dreams; the literature, popular culture, and philosophy of a generation through the lens of the poet’s personal history. In the grand tradition of Wordsworth, Wallace Stevens, and John Ashbery, ROTC Kills is an important work from a major American poet.


About John Koethe

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John Koethe has been Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and the first Poet Laureate of Milwaukee. His collections include North Point North, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and Falling Water, which won the Kingsley-Tufts Award. In 2005, John Koethe was a fellow at the American Academy in Berlin; in 2008, he was the Elliston Poet in Residence at the University of Cincinnati; and in 2010, he was the Bain-Swiggett Professor of Poetry at Princeton University. In 2011, he received the Arts and Letters Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in Milkaukee, Wisconsin.
Published August 28, 2012 by Harpercollins. 78 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for ROTC Kills

Publishers Weekly

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In this ninth collection of poems, very much obsessed with time's passage and its ending, with aging, remembering and preparing to die, poet-philosopher Koethe is in full, lucid command of his voice, an amiable hybrid of late Wallace Stevens, late John Ashbery, and William Bronk, to whom Koethe o...

Aug 20 2012 | Read Full Review of ROTC Kills: Poems


Note the line break in this couplet from the collection’s title poem, about radical posters from the ‘60s that he still keeps on his walls: As Stephen Burt has written, poetry demands time out from much of what we think o...

Sep 07 2012 | Read Full Review of ROTC Kills: Poems

Journal Sentinel

In his new collection, John Koethe opens by contemplating "the impossible world from which I'm absent" with a "sudden stab of fear," aware that the "never-ending sentences" he creates will one day actually end.

Aug 31 2012 | Read Full Review of ROTC Kills: Poems

The Kenyon Review

Koethe starts off easy with “in the lurch” / “out in search” before moving on to “North by Northwest” / “probably the best” and the olive in the martini: “yet still impeccable” / “presidential nostril.” Koethe has a terrific sense of play—(he’s not above the pun)—and like Bishop, makes complex id...

Sep 03 2015 | Read Full Review of ROTC Kills: Poems

Boston Review

It’s forty years ago, It’s yesterday, and when I try to think of what those posters represent Language undisturbed.

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Sep 02 2012 | Read Full Review of ROTC Kills: Poems

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