Planisphere

( 1 )

Overview

Breathlike

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.
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Overview

Breathlike

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Boston Phoenix
“Ashbery helms a keen awareness of himself throughout...If he’s repetitive, it’s in the way that a beach is repetitive with sand, or the night sky is repetitive with stars.”
Boston Globe
” [Ashbery’s] 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.”
BookForum
“Deeply pleasurable...Ashbery still has his ear to the ground, he’s still listening, and the results are fun, funny, often wise, sometimes brilliant...”
Publishers Weekly
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. (Dec.)
Library Journal
Award-winning poet and art critic Ashbery writes Jackson Pollock-like poems that contain bright threads of imagery. And as with Pollock's artistic techniques in which he drips paint against a canvas, Ashbery seems as though he deliberately fragments his thoughts. If his ideas connect, they do so only peripherally. In his latest book of poetry, he gathers images from nature, philosophy, and fairy tales to create poems from the inside out using free association punctuated by clichés and colloquialisms that add a note of irony to the poem itself and at times to the poetry around it. Take "Programmer," for example: following a particularly absurd poem, it begins, "What kind of nuthouse is this/ Hansel wondered…," with the line an appropriate commentary on the preceding poem. VERDICT Influenced by W.H. Auden and Wallace Stevens, Ashbery's poems lean heavily toward the philosophical as opposed to the emotional and are suggested for scholarly readers only.—Diane Scharper, Towson Univ., Maryland
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061915222
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/7/2010
  • Pages: 143
  • Sales rank: 1,003,349
  • Product dimensions: 9.32 (w) x 11.70 (h) x 0.45 (d)

Meet the Author

John Ashbery is the author of more than twenty books of poetry. his many awards include a Pulitzer Prize and, in 2012, a National Humanities Medal presented by President Obama at the White House.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 18, 2010

    I've discovered a new favorite poet, and it's John Ashbery!

    Thought-provoking, full of emotions that take you on a roller coaster ride, amazingly translucent to the senses, Mr. Ashbery takes us into the world of rhyme and reason with his new book, Planisphere. What an amazing book, I congratulate him on an elusively grandeur career and can't wait until his next book comes out soon!

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