● Something Wonderful May Happen

A documentary about the New York School of Poets commissioned by the poetry festival »In The Making« held in Copenhagen August 2001. We were lucky to capture and interview a substantial part of the group of poets and their painter friends. Now many of them are no longer among us. See also the video I made with one of the participating poets ‘The Answer - Charles Bernstein a Capella*.

Lars Movin, Niels Plenge & Thomas Thurah 2001, DVcam, 57 min

● The New York School of Poets and beyond

In the years after World War II the American East Coast saw a new generation of poets and artists, fuelled by a strange mix of optimism and desillusion, fresh energy and dissatifaction with the prevalent materialism of the time.

On the art scene the New York School of Painters manifested a powerful break-away from the European traditions. And soon they were followed by a group of writers, headed by such young talents as John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch, Frank O’Hara and James Schuyler (1923-1991). The poets were first published in the early fifties by John Bernard Myers, director of Tibor de Nagy Gallery. And it was also Myers who in 1961 suggested the name “New York School of Poets”.

The often playful poetry of the New York School poets was both serious and humorous, and in general it didn’t shy away from common language and clichés. Still today some of the members of the original group are considered to be among North America’s most important poets.

In Something Wonderful May Happen John Ashbery (1927-2017) and Kenneth Koch (1925-2002) talk with Thomas Thurah about their poetics and read from their works, and Frank O’Hara (1926-66) is appearing in archive footage. Author David Lehman and writer Bill Morgan contribute to the history of the group.

The strong connections between the writers and the visual artists of the generation are touched upon in interviews with painters Jane Freilicher (1924-2014), Larry Rivers (1923-2002) and Alfred Leslie. Furthermore excerpts from Alfred Lesllie’s collaborative films are shown.

Finally younger collegues such as language poet Charles Bernstein and poet Jordan Davis comment on the influence of the New York School.

Lars Movin


● Filming in New York April 2001

Recording by Lars Movin