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Planisphere: New Poems

Planisphere: New Poems
Author: John Ashbery
ISBN 13: 9780061915222
ISBN 10: 6191522
Edition: Reprint
Publisher: Ecco
Publication Date: 2010-12-07
Format: Paperback
Pages: 160
List Price: $16.99


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.

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.)