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Overview

A collection of poems that recall, in their powerful transformations of language, the moment of clarity that arrives upon waking from a dream

One of John Ashbery’s most critically acclaimed collections since his iconic works of the mid-1970s, Wakefulness was praised in 1999 for its beauty and alertness. In these pages, the great poet is at once luring the reader into a vivid dream and waking us up with a jolt of recognition. In poems such as ...
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Wakefulness

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Overview

A collection of poems that recall, in their powerful transformations of language, the moment of clarity that arrives upon waking from a dream

One of John Ashbery’s most critically acclaimed collections since his iconic works of the mid-1970s, Wakefulness was praised in 1999 for its beauty and alertness. In these pages, the great poet is at once luring the reader into a vivid dream and waking us up with a jolt of recognition. In poems such as “The Village of Sleep,” “Shadows in the Street,” and “Wakefulness,” dreams, sleeplessness, and other transformational and liminal states are revealed to be part of a ceaseless continuity of accelerating changes. Even the most seemingly familiar phrases (“stop me if you’ve heard this one”) are ever in the process of changing their meanings, especially in Ashbery’s hands. And distinctive new realities are created constantly by the power of words, in strange and beautiful combinations. With every word and every line, Ashbery questions the real and summons a new reality.
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Editorial Reviews

Greg Harris
Wakefulness is further proof [Ashberry] is one of the most vital, revelatory, and original poets we have. His vigilance is a blessing upon poetry, a wake-up call to all slumbering aesthetics. -- American Book Review
Library Journal
Even after 40 years, Ashbery's work can still be relied upon to provoke argument, from the strenuously theoretical to the bluntly dismissive. In tone and strategy, the lyric poems in this new work are indistinguishable from those in his last, Can You Hear, Bird? (LJ 11/15/95), which is to say that they are no less surprising, labyrinthine, funny, and self-justifying ("Then the book opened by itself/ and read to us"). But through the glittering ironwork of Ashbery's eccentric imagery ("the cabbage-hemmed horizons") and eurhythmic sound ("And the hooligan/ ogles a calla lily"), one can now more readily spot the empty spaces, the poems where Ashbery seems less engaged in inspired pursuit (e.g., "Wakefulness," "The Friend at Midnight") than in routinely assembling what readers have now gotten used to recognizing as an Ashbery poem. Still, for all the blush that has worn off with familiarity, Ashbery's workmore dramatically than that of most other poetsallows us to see the purely figurative without reliance on the literal and to accept it as literalwhich is of course the experience poetry itself was designed to embody.Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781480459120
  • Publisher: Open Road Media
  • Publication date: 9/9/2014
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 79
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

John Ashbery was born in 1927 in Rochester, New York, and grew up on a farm near Lake Ontario. He has authored more than thirty books of poetry, fiction, drama, and criticism, his work has been translated into more than twenty-five languages, and he has won numerous American literary awards for his poetry, including a MacArthur Fellowship, two Guggenheim Fellowships, and a National Humanities Medal. His book Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (1975) won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the National Book Award. For many years, Ashbery taught graduate and undergraduate poetry courses at Brooklyn College and Bard College, and his most recent book of poems is Quick Question, published in 2012. He lives in New York.
John Ashbery was born in 1927 in Rochester, New York, and grew up on a farm near Lake Ontario. He has authored more than thirty books of poetry, fiction, drama, and criticism, his work has been translated into more than twenty-five languages, and he has won numerous American literary awards for his poetry, including a MacArthur Fellowship, two Guggenheim Fellowships, and a National Humanities Medal. His book Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (1975) won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the National Book Award. For many years, Ashbery taught graduate and undergraduate poetry courses at Brooklyn College and Bard College, and his most recent book of poems is Quick Question, published in 2012. He lives in New York.
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Table of Contents

Wakefulness 3
Baltimore 5
Palindrome of Evening 6
Cousin Sarah's Knitting 7
Last Night I Dreamed I Was in Bucharest 9
Added Poignancy 10
Quarry 12
Laughing Gravy 13
From Such Commotion 14
Moderately 16
Alive at Every Passage 18
The Burden of the Park 19
At the Station 22
Another Kind of Afternoon 23
Tangled Star 24
Deeply Incised 26
Tropical Sex 27
The Friend at Midnight 29
Stung by Something 30
The Last Romantic 32
Shadows in the Street 34
The Earth-Tone Madonna 36
Dear Sir or Madam 38
The Laughter of Dead Men 39
Discordant Data 40
Bogus Inspections 42
Floatingly 44
Tenebrae 45
Outside My Window the Japanese ... 46
Any Other Time 48
Probably Based on a Dream 49
The Village of Sleep 50
In My Head 52
The Spacious Firmament 53
Proximity 55
Going Away Any Time Soon 56
Like America 58
New Constructions 59
Whiteout 62
A French Stamp 63
One Man's Poem 64
The Pathetic Fallacy 65
From Old Notebooks 67
Many Colors 68
Autumn in the Long Avenue 70
Snow 72
Within the Hour 74
The Dong with the Luminous Nose 75
Come On, Dear 77
Gentle Reader 78
Homecoming 80
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