John Ashbery

Forty-five-minute collaborative close reading of Ashbery's 'Just Walking Around' (video)

Here is a video of me leading a forty-five-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! 

Twelve poets each teach a poem to high-school students in 20 minutes

Video and audio recordings at PennSound

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"

Four introductions to John Ashbery across five decades

Kenneth Koch, Richard Howard, David Lehman, Susan Schultz

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

The 35th episode of PennSound podcasts presents an anthology of introductions to readings given by John Ashbery: Kenneth Koch in 1963, Susan Schultz in 1996, David Lehman in 2008, and Richard Howard in 1967.

Ongoing 'Planisphere' notebook

At right: John Ashbery. Photo by Arielle Brousse.

1.

People are much too free with the phrase “a great book of poetry.” They think if the book has ten really good pieces in it then it’s a great book.

They don’t talk that way about albums. For it to be a great album it can’t just have some hits. You have to consider the not-hits, too.

Gertrude Stein anew

A review of 'Stanzas in Meditation: The Corrected Edition'

A Gertrude Stein renaissance is afoot. It is difficult not to think how celebrated Stein is, to paraphrase her Stanzas in Meditation.[1]During the past two years, she made a cameo (played by Kathy Bates) in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, and several exhibitions of her art collection circulated at major museums.

Ten newly found recordings of poems performed by Ashbery

Thanks to Anna Zalokostas, we at PennSound have just now located recordings of ten of John Ashbery’s poems. They had been preserved in a Segue Series audio tape, dating from a 1978 reading Ashbery did with Michael Lally at the Ear Inn. We had left the Ashbery portion of this reading not quite identified, and have now corrected that oversight. On Ashbery’s PennSound page now, and on the Segue series page, you will now see — and can hear — these segments:

  1. A Box and its Contents (1:42): MP3
  2. The Heralding Shadows of a New Adventure (2:01): MP3
  3. Haunted Landscape (3:28): MP3
  4. Five Pedantic Pieces (1:02): MP3
  5. The Cathedral Is (0:17): MP3
  6. Silhouette (2:36): MP3
  7. A Tone Poem (0:59): MP3
  8. Metamorphosis (2:26): MP3
  9. Sleeping in the Corners of Our Lives (1:21): MP3
  10. from Litany (19:59): MP3

John Ashbery's "The Skaters": digital edition and archive

It is my great pleasure to announce Robin Seguy's  genetic edition of John Ashbery's great poem "The Skaters." This is the first in the newly created Text/works series, a digital library that intends to make freely accessible critical editions and analytic tools for an array of 19th to 21st century French and American poetry collections.

Jane Freilicher, back at Tibor de Nagy Gallery

Yesterday, during a poetry reading at Tibor de Nagy Gallery for Jane Freilicher, “Painter among Poets,” Lawrence Schwartzwald photographed Freilicher, now 88, gazing at the iconic image taken in 1952 by photographer Walter Silver of her and John Ashbery at Tibor de Nagy. (Photographs should not be reproduced without consent of the photographer.)

Further notes on my obsession with 'Some Trees'

It's a love poem but perhaps, ultimately, it's directed at someone in particular.

Perhaps John Ashbery’s “Some Trees” is a love poem for Frank O’Hara. They met at the time the poem was written, and they shared a twangy, bumpkin, non-Harvard accent. “These accents seem their own defense.” See, above, two pages from Andrew Epsteins Beautiful Enemies. You might have to enlarge the image to read it easily. See the marked block quote in the middle of p. 236.

Ashbery live webcast interview: Audio recording segmented by topic

New at PennSound

On February 12, 2013, I interviewed John Ashbery in his Chelsea (New York, NY) apartment, and moderated a discussion with people gathered at the Kelly Writers House, while many hundreds more watched via live webcast. Thanks to Anna Zalokostas, PennSound’s Ashbery page now offers the audio-only version (in downloadable MP3 format, as always) of the discussion, and, also, links to audio excerpts segmented by topic. Here are those segments:

  1. on humor in Ashbery’s poems (3:53): MP3
  2. on Ashbery's relationship to nature and the country (4:00): MP3
  3. on “Auburn-Tinted Fences,” “Soonest Mended,” and living outside the margin (7:13): MP3
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