No short answers…


Quick Question –  New Poems
 By John Ashbery,
 Ecco, 108 pages

I’m not sure why I love John Ashbery’s poetry. Maybe it’s because each poem is like a favorite old album you think you know by heart but then there’s an earthquake and the needle jumps from track 2 to track 5 and now you’re here, not there and the scenery has changed but not completely. And you go back and read it again, everyday language electrified on some weird alternating current that switches sometimes slow sometimes fast.

Quick Question opens with “Words to That Effect:”

“The drive down was smooth/but after we arrived things started to go haywire,/first one thing and then another. The days/ scudded past like tumbleweed, slow then fast then slow again.”

And that’s the way it is with Ashbery. A little haywire, one thing, then another. Thing is, you’ve got to keep going back, tasting the words again and again. I’m still reading 1975′s Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror. Elusive and mysterious. Just like life.


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