Articles - August 2018

Boring in a different way (PoemTalk 127)

John Ashbery, 'The Short Answer'

Left to right: Susan McCabe, Marjorie Perloff, Robert von Hallberg at Marjorie Perloff's home in Los Angeles

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Al Filreis and Zach Carduner traveled to Los Angeles to the home of Marjorie Perloff where they made a sound recording and film of a convesation about a poem by John Ashbery with Susan McCabe, Robert von Hallberg, and Marjorie herself. The poem is “The Short Answer” from a late book, Quick Question (2013). There are, abounding, the usual marooned pronouns, and the typically high “daftness quotient.” Marjorie and Al chose this poem with the goal of exploring of what it means to read closely and talk in detail about a seemingly “minor” poem from a “major” poet — a poem that might strike readers as an effect of Ashbery’s incessant and seemingly easeful poetic fermentation.