16 ene. 2009


Ashbery Your Name Here. 2000. 127 pp.

I love the cover of this book, a still from an old Egyptian movie. I've spent many hours with this book over the past 9 years.

The enemy of Ashbery is the typical Ashbery poem, which is so well-written and so abundant, so indistinguishable from its neighbors, that it forces the reader to look for the outlier poem, the one that is somehow unique and memorable on its own terms. The slightest change is welcome: the increasing use of prose poems, the shorter more intense pieces that are more concentrated than his standard page and half NYROB fare.

One thing he's done, though, is to teach people to read him by dint of sheer quantity. One Ashbery poem is incomprehensible, but 5,000 of them? They become translucent, every move and device catalogued in my brain.


*Ashbery. Chinese Whispers. 2002. 100 pp.

In many ways a typical late JA book, but with a strange sourness that makes it attractive, as though the only way to innovate now within this style were to become stranger and more disjointed, while preserving the surface sheen of genteelness. The title poem stands out as especially good. "Random Jottings of an Old Man" is a self-parody (a deliberate one, mind you).

1 comentario:

Matt dijo...

Chinese Whispers is how I got into Ashbery. I mean, it's where I went from not liking him to liking him. Which means, it's where I started to learn how to read poetry, when I was 22 or so. My blog name is stolen from it.