* Also, mistakenly known as "John Ashbury" and "John Ashberry"
About me:Ashbery has won nearly every major American award for his poetry, beginning with the Yale Younger Poets Prize in 1956, selected by W. H. Auden, for his first collection, Some Trees. His early work shows the influence of Wallace Stevens, Boris Pasternak, and many of the French surrealists (his translations from French literature are numerous). In the late 1950s, the critic John Bernard Myers categorized the common traits of Ashbery's avant-garde poetry, as well as that of Kenneth Koch, Frank O'Hara, James Schuyler, Paul Blackburn, Barbara Guest, Kenward Elmslie and others, as constituting a "New York School."
Ashbery's works are characterized by a free-flowing, often disjunctive syntax, extensive linguistic play, often infused with considerable humor, and a prosaic, sometimes disarmingly flat or parodic tone. The play of the human mind is the subject of a great many of his poems. Ashbery also has written art criticism, collected in "Reported Sightings." He has written three plays and, with the late poet James Schuyler, the novel "A Nest of Ninnies." Ashbery's Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard University were published as "Other Traditions" in 2000. He currently is the Charles P. Stevenson, Jr. Professor at Bard College and is the poet laureate of New York state.
The room I entered was a dream of this room.
Surely all those feet on the sofa were mine.
The oval portrait
of a dog was me at an early age.
Something shimmers, something is hushed up.
We had macaroni for lunch every day
except Sunday, when a small quail was induced
to be served to us. Why do I tell you these things?
You are not even here...
Poem: "This Room," by John Ashbery, from Your Name Here. © Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
The Spacious Firmament
Say that this is a street therefore people walk down it.
I stand holding a bunch of keys,
burn up my motto, read Kleist in November.
Could it be that I cannibalize others' lives,
the lives of others' words?
Or am I simply going back to where I came from,
not too long ago, to excuse whoever took my place
when I was gone? Sudden indecision,
the dear reddish flowers -- I am all about a comma in space.
I neither go nor return unfazed.
In short I am in this comedy you wrote for me to star in.
Yes she waits, time out, time in,
for me to get the wail, whale of a wail, off my chest.
Yes the coddling circuits
the time giveaway
are standing all over me too like foxglove angels,
drawing in their breath, giving us what we bargained for--
no crossing, chumps at the end of the market
where needle soldiers ferreted us out,
wished us well, taking a piss at a private hall about
a mile down the road,
coming in during the week.
They had put their kilts on first.
Pull you out of my wool,
toiling as the will
bends us to ends and now is no more.
That force going under,
it kind of makes it stand out
and for me too the trees in this room
we bide our time in, happy as in a nursery,
till the times dictate otherwise. Oh, he was a grown man,
scrofulous it's true, but neither piebald nor land-proud.
A great equator did him in, the fullness of time
waited at the end of my hall, cobbled quodlibets,
procession toward a context. Capitalist
actions forced it into a runoff.
Model villages provide all sorts of
plumbing. Cherry blossoms cascade
in spring, don't last long.
I think we shall be moving to
the dance baths on the river, river that is ripe,
right for explication, as you do plaster it with the wasps
just coming into being, no names yet.
Twenty years ago my dance professor
reinterpreted it, we'll have it on the ground soon
he said coming back, my hand blotted with crystals, your breath calls.
No, something to lug up behind the office at noon.
Who I'd like to meet:The Gods of Fairness
The failure to see God is not a problem
God has a problem with. Sure, he could see us
if he had a hankering to do so, but that's
not the point. The point is his concern
for us and for biscuits. For the loaf
of bread that turns in the night sky over Stockholm.
Not there, over there. And I yelled them
what I had told them before. The affair is no one's business.
The peeing man seemed not to notice either.
We came up the strand with carbuncles
and chessmen fetched from the wreck. Finally the surplus buzz
did notice, and it was fatal to our project.
We just gave up then and there, some of us dying, others walking
wearily but contentedly away. God had had his little joke,
but who was to say it wasn't ours? Nobody, apparently,
which could be why the subject was never raised
in discussion groups in old houses along the harbor,
some of them practically falling into it.
Yet still they chatter a little ruefully: "I know
your grace's preference." There are times
when I even think I can read his mind,
coated with seed-pearls and diamonds.
There they are, for the taking. Take them away.
Deposit them in whatever suburban bank you choose.
Hurry, before he changes his mind --- again.
But all they did was lean on their shovels, dreaming
of spring planting, and the marvellous harvests to come.
--John Ashbery, Your Name Here
- Status: In a Relationship
- Hometown: Rochester, NY
- Zodiac Sign: Cancer