Synopses & Reviews
“Ashbery is a national treasure.”
—New York Times Book Review
The poetry of John Ashbery has been awarded virtually every conceivable literary prize including the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, the Griffin, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Planisphere is a new collection by one of Americas most innovative and influential poets—an exceptional artist whose work stands alongside the finest of Whitman, Dickinson, Stevens, and Hart Crane. For more than half a century Ashbery has been producing timeless works such as Chinese Whispers, Hotel Lautréamont, A Wave, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, and Where Shall I Wander. Planisphere is proof that the master only improves with age.
"What can one say about a new book by John Ashbery (Notes from the Air)? That Ashbery is as prolific in his 80s as ever? Yes, there are 99 new poems, sequenced alphabetically and most of them a page long, in this book. That his wit is still sharp, the poems still rife with clever juxtapositions and colliding voices? Absolutely. That he still culls from the highs and lows of culture, making for unlikely yet somehow inevitable meetings? Of course: 'I'm barely twenty six, have been on Oprah/ and such,' he says in a poem that also asks, thinking of mortality as he has been of late, 'The song that started/ in the middle, did that close down too?' That perhaps Ashbery has learned a thing or two from his own legions of imitators and acolytes? That's harder to prove, but almost certainly true (note the hip and lovely cover by poet/designer Jeff Clark). That, as in his last several books, there's nothing entirely new , but that the poems are almost always satisfying and strange? Indeed. And that, perhaps most surprising, depending on one's biases, this, Ashbery's 28th volume of poems, ranks among the most vital collections of the year. Or maybe that's not a surprise at all." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
” [Ashberys] productivity has done nothing to diminish his legendary inscrutability, not sap his notorious zest for playing havoc with nearly every convention and fixed idea about poetry under the sun.” Boston Globe
“Deeply pleasurable...Ashbery still has his ear to the ground, hes still listening, and the results are fun, funny, often wise, sometimes brilliant...” BookForum
“Ashbery helms a keen awareness of himself throughout...If hes repetitive, its in the way that a beach is repetitive with sand, or the night sky is repetitive with stars.” Boston Phoenix
Just as the day could use another hour,
I need another idea. Not a concept
or a slogan. Something more like a rut
made thousands of years ago by one of the first
wheels as it rolled along. It never came back
to see what it had done, and the rut
just stayed there, not thinking of itself
or calling attention to itself in any way.
Sun baked it. Water stood, or rather sat
in it. Wind covered it with dust, then blew it
away. Always it was available to itself
when it wished to be, which wasn't often.
Then there was a cup and ball theory
I told you about. A lot of people had left the coast.
Squirt conditions obtained. I forgot I overwhelmed you
once upon a time, between everybody's sound sleep
and waking afterward, trying to piece together
what had happened. The rut glimmered
through centuries of snow and after.
I suppose it was trying to make some point
but we never found out about that,
having come to know each other years later
when our interest in zoning had revived again.
Ashbery is a national treasure. New York Times Book ReviewThe poetry of John Ashbery has been awarded virtually every conceivable literary prize including the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, the Griffin, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Planisphere is a new collection by one of America s most innovative and influential poets an exceptional artist whose work stands alongside the finest of Whitman, Dickinson, Stevens, and Hart Crane. For more than half a century Ashbery has been producing timeless works such as Chinese Whispers, Hotel Lautreamont, A Wave, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, and Where Shall I Wander. Planisphere is proof that the master only improves with age."
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.