Something Wonderful May Happen: A New York School Documentary

Year

2004
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The New York School of poetry began around 1960 in New York City and included poets such as John Ashbery, Barbara Guest, Kenneth Koch, and Frank O'Hara. Heavily influenced by surrealism and modernism, the poetry of the New York School was serious but also ironic, and incorporated an urban sensibility.

Filmed in 2001, this Danish documentary is a rare effort to document on film the history of the New York School of poets. The film focuses on John Ashbery and the late Kenneth Koch, featuring readings and interviews. The film also includes footage of Frank O’Hara from the 1960s, reading, answering questions, talking on the phone, and occasionally juggling all three at once.

Unfortunately the life and work of James Schuyler receives almost no mention and the poet Barbara Guest is left out entirely. Poets David Lehman and Charles Bernstein provide much of the commentary. Remarkable moments with artists Jane Freilicher, Alfred Leslie, and Larry Rivers provide the most unvarnished and interesting portraits of the poets. The writers Hettie Jones, Jordan Davis and Bill Morgan also read and provide commentary on the influence of the New York School.

Produced and directed by Lars Movin, Niels Plenge and Thomas Thurah (2001). Not Rated. Distributed by Filmakers Library