Here is a video of me leading a 45-minute-long collaborative close reading of John Ashbery's poem "Just Walking Around" at Friends' Central School in December 2013 — with a group of parents, students, and teachers. The audio isn’t great, but turn up the sound and watch these people grapple with Ashbery's love of being aimless and counterproductive!
In 2009 and again in 2010, I invited six poets — each year, so twelve total — to teach one poem each to high-school juniors and seniors. Each session lasted twenty minutes. And we preserved all twelve sessions as video and audio recordings. Go here to watch or listen to them. The poems were:
1. John Ashbery, "This Room" 2. Erin Moure, "The Frame of the Book" 3. Harryette Mullen, "Trimmings" 4. John Keats, "[This living hand]" 5. Yvor Winters, "At the San Francisco Airport" 6. William Carlos Williams, "The Last Words of My English Grandmother" 7. Lorine Niedecker, "[I married...]" 8. Robert Creeley, "The Sentence" 9. Helen Chasin, "The Word Plum" 10. Frank Sherlock, "Wounds in an Imaginary Nature Show" 11. Harryette Mullen, "Zombie Hat" 12. Basho, selected haiku; John Ashbery, "37 Haiku"
Robert Grenier’s Sentences (1978, complete text) from Whale Cloth Press. In 2003, twenty-five years after its publication of the original edition of 500 boxed 5" x 8" index cards, Whale Cloth Press made available a web-based version of this crucial work. Before viewing the web version, please read the note on the web version of this poem.
The man in the middle, in the book The Man in the Middle, published thirty years ago this year (1984—a year before I first met this man in the middle), is a guy who managed to find his way out of the tower of Babel, despite the Babel of languages, French, Arabic, Armenian, broken English, buzzing in his ears from his immigrant refugee-ish elders.
In Natomas, on a day in 1983, Beverly Dahlen read one of the poems in her epic A Reading, and then, remarkably, offered a close psychoanalytic reading of the poem that lasted an hour and twenty minutes. She describes it as “a self-analysis of a piece of writing,” which she wrote first for herself but then felt willing to share the notes. “The framework for this is psychoanalytic. I'm assuming a kind of psychoanalytic stance toward what's going on.” The notes had been composed in 1981.