Monday, May 31, 2010

Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror by John Ashbery

Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror is the first Ashbery book I've read. I heard audio recordings of a couple of his poems, but never read any of his books.

Ashbery has a reputation for being hard. I see why! The first time I read through the book, I didn't start understanding the poems at all until about half way through the book, yet still liked them. When I read the book again, I understood it a lot more (but not totally) and really liked the poems. It is a weird feeling, liking poems while they didn't really make sense.

One of his poems "In the Tomb of Stuart Merrill" includes a quote: "I have become attracted to your style. You seem to possess within your work an air of total freedom of expression and imagery, somewhat interesting and puzzling. After I read one of your poems, I'm always tempted to read and reread it. It seems that my inexperience holds me back from understanding your meanings." And continues: "I really would like to know what it is you do to 'magnetize' your poetry, where the curious reader, always a bit puzzled, comes back for a clearer insight." I want to know the answer to this question too! I am looking forward to reading more Ashbery books to find out!

My favorite poems in this book (While I was looking for poems online, I found out that you can get Ashbery ringtones!):

City Afternoon

Fear of Death

Forties Flick (half way down the page)

Mixed Feelings


At 8:34 PM, Blogger beth coyote said...

John Ashberry! thanks again!


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