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Quick Question: New Poemsby John Ashbery
Synopses & Reviews
Hailed by Harold Bloom as "Americas greatest living poet," John Ashbery has won every major American literary award for his poetry, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Griffin Poetry Prize, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. A beloved and gifted artist, Ashbery takes his place beside Whitman, Dickinson, Stevens, and Hart Crane in the canon of great American poets. With Quick Question, a new collection of poems published in time for his 85th birthday, John Ashbery proves that his creative power has only grown stronger with age.
"When it comes to reviews, it's become as problematic to challenge Ashbery's work as to praise it. Part of the reason is that with every new Ashbery collection, we encounter moments of irreducible beauty — like when 'tanks retreat/ as though the war was never meant/ and none of us were supposed to die as/ we in fact weren't' — alongside moments of cringe-worthy irony and clichÃ© ('Don't try this at home' begins 'Suburban Burma'). For a long time now the two have canceled each other out. And the elephant in the room, at least in the last 20 years, has been the question of whether Ashbery is leaning on his own style instead of continuing to push his boundaries as an artist. Here, for example, are a handful of titles from the collection, each of which banks on the double-entendre colloquialism that's been a staple of conservative poetry since the Ã¢Â€Â˜90s: 'Quick Question,' 'Feel Free,' 'Puff Piece,' 'Laundry List,' 'The Short Answer,' 'False Report,' 'Words to That Effect.' On one hand, the genius of Ashbery's work is that it's always rippling and changing its colors: 'Like a windup denture in a joke store/ fate approaches, leans quietly,' he writes in 'A Voice from the Fireplace.' On the other hand, it stands to reason that constant change is itself a form of stasis." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
For over 50 years John Ashbery has been one of America's most innovative and influential poets. Like Yeats and Milosz, Ashbery is that rare poet whose work continues to improve as he ages. Now at 85, he writes with the boldness and vision of a poet half his age. Honed by experience and inexhaustibly creative, these never before published poems certify that Ashbery's artistic flame has continued to burn late into his life.
About the Author
John Ashbery was born in Rochester, New York, in 1927. He earned degrees from Harvard and Columbia, and went to France as a Fulbright Scholar in 1955, living there for much of the next decade. His many collections include Notes from the Air: Selected Later Poems (2007), which was awarded the International Gri=n Poetry Prize. Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (1975) won the three major American prizes—the Pulitzer, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award—and an early book, Some Trees (1956), was selected by W. H. Auden for the Yale Younger Poets Series. The Library of America published the first volume of his collected poems in 2008. Active in various areas of the arts throughout his career, he has served as executive editor of Art News and as art critic for New York magazine and Newsweek. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and he was a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1988 to 1999. He has received two Guggenheim Fellowships and was a MacArthur Fellow from 1985 to 1990. His work has been translated into more than twenty-five languages. He lives in New York.
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