Quote of the Day
Your list has always been interesting, idiosyncratic, imaginative and your translations [...] have been a source of pleasure to me.
Subscribe to our mailing list
Collected Poems 1956-1987
(Library of America)
Edited by Mark Ford
ISBN: 978 1 847770 58 5
Categories: 20th Century, American
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: September 2010
216 x 135 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
John Ashbery’s Collected Poems 1956-1987 contains the complete text of the poet’s first twelve books, from Some Trees (1956), selected for publication by W.H. Auden, to April Galleons (1987), and including The Vermont Notebook (1975) with the original artwork by Joe Brainard, and Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (1976), which won the Pulitzer Prize, together with a selection of more than sixty previously uncollected poems.
To read Ashbery’s work in sequence is to experience the magnitude of his presence in American poetry over these four decades, as innovator and influence. His poetry, ‘an exuberant script for survival’ (Marina Warner), ‘light-footed and delectably irresponsible’ (Alfred Brendel), fascinates with virtuosic complexity and delights with wry humour. A restless explorer of the modern world, alive to language and impression, Ashbery enlarges the possibilities of poetry.
With a detailed chronology and notes on the poems, Collected Poems 1956-1987 is an indispensable compilation of the work of one of the essential poets of our time.
Cover Art Portrait of John Ashbery, 1962, by Larry Rivers. Pencil on paper, 14" x 17". Private Collection, Courtesy Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York. Art © Estate of Larry Rivers/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
'John Ashbery's Collected Poems 1956-1987, edited by Mark Ford (Carcanet), was a book I found inexhaustible. Possibly the greatest living English-speaking poet and one of the most prolific, Ashbery takes language to its limits, so that words serve as pointers to shifting experiences that elude description. Containing his masterpiece 'Self-Portrait In A Convex Mirror', one of the most penetrating 20th-century meditations on what it means to be human, this collection succeeded in stirring my thoughts as well as delighting me.' John Gray The Guardian Books Of The Year 2010 Praise for John Ashbery 'Praised as a magical genius, cursed as an obscure joker, John Ashbery writes poetry like no one else.' The Independent 'Great poetry, as T.S. Eliot said, can communicate before it is understood: Ashbery communicates in a way that both pays homage to language and transcends it at the same time.' The Guardian 'The language of [John Ashbery's] books is informed by his roving enthusiasms for particular composers. His tastes are both eclectic and out-of-the-way.'- Michael Glover, 'A blue rinse for the language,' The Independent, 13 November, 1999 'The careering, centrifugal side of Girls on the Run is one of its most effective tools in creating its special ainbience of good-humoured menace ... Ashbery has made the slush of signification, the realm where words slip, slide, perish and decay, uniquely his own.' - David Wheatley, Times Literary Supplement, 30 June, 2000 'In his seventies John Ashbery offers a sprightly and energetic alternative. Instead of being sluggish he demands that the self must be even more alert, more vigilant, more attentive to the world around it, not indifferent to and weary of it. Alert, vigilant, attentive ... Wakefulness, the brilliantly evocative title of Ashbery's collection.' - Stephen Matterson, 'The Capacious Art of Poetry,' Poetry Ireland Review 62, 114 'Harold Bloom regards [John Ashbery] as something akin to a genius...' - Michael Glover, 'The poet as frustrated composer,' Book and Poetry Review section, The Independent, 14 August, 1998 '...Ashbery is still exuberantly dedicated to the truthful rendering of experience as a flow of sensations that defy interpretation. Consciousness is not so much a stream as a series of jump-cuts from one haunting or zany impression to the next. His best poems have a weirdly, intriguingly satisfying quality.' - Alan Brownjohn, 'Creating a sensation,' Book and Poetry Review section, The Sunday Times, 10 January, 1999
'Stemming in part from Mallarme and in part from Whitman, Ashbery's work creates a tension in which the fine networks of linguistic reverie are balanced by the strong sense of American tradition.'- Peter Ackroyd, 'Books of the Year,' The Times Literary Supplement, 4 December, 1992 '...an Ashbery [poem] does not stand on its own but floats off into the reader's limitless consciousness like a balloon. Balloons can be very beautiful, inspire longing and also make you smile.'- Grey Gowrie, 'Where the commonplace is wonderful,' Book and Poetry Review section, The Daily Telegraph, 5 October, 1996 'John Ashbery's distinctiveness as a poet paradoxically resides in his ability to evade all single identities; like Whitman, he feels most fully himself when he contains multitudes ... [Ashbery] deploys a staggering variety of dictions, ranging from fragments of novelettish narratives to lyrical dream-visions, from the cliché of public speech to scraps of surrealist collage...'- Mark Ford, 'Free-wheeling towards the abyss,' Times Literary Supplement, 27 December, 1991 'Notoriously hard to characterise, Ashbery's poetry has been likened to many things - a spiritual experience or an animated cartoon ... No poet's lines are more accommodating to other voices and idioms ... Like restless guests, his subjects arrive and mingle, don unlikely disguises and abruptly announce they are "off on some expedition"...Such poise lends authority to his "positive melancholy," makes even his excesses ... masterly, and ensures that The Ashbery remains the destination of choice, the place "where everything gets unravelled just right."'- Julian Loose, Book and Poetry Review section, The Guardian, 3 November, 1992 'The Mooring of Starting Out is filled with illustrations glimpsed through luminous, funny, formidably intelligent and often heartbreaking poems.'- Andrew Zawacki, 'A wave of music,' Times Literary Supplement, 12 June, 1998 'John Ashbery is probably the most highly regarded living poet in America ... The "story" element in Ashbery comes over in fragmented and non-consequential ways, but the fragments have a strong power of visual evocation, and a startling precision of outline ... His focus is on a bravura artifice, a depersonalised surface crackling with "possibility," a brilliant randomness in which analogy with Action Painting asserts itself with special force...'- Claude Rawson, 'A poet in the postmodern playground,' Times Literary Supplement, 4 July, 1986
No one could claim that the inimitable, though much imitated, John Ashbery opens the door to newcomers as readily as the previous pair do. read more
There are so many ways of writing a poem. read more
John Ashbery’s poetic talent, as reviewers have increasingly noted, is the gift that keeps on giving. read more
To begin plainly, the book brings together twelve volumes to 1987, ordered chronologically by American publication, plus 65 uncollected poems from periodicals and anthologies to 1990. read more
The Carcanet Blog Let's Gimbal! read more Carcanet New Poetry Showcase: The Audience Writes Back read more John Gallas: A Little Andaluciad read more Carcanet Poetry Showcase: 30th April read more The Manchester Writing Competition 2013 read more Six Sixty-Six: Infinity by Gabriel Josipovici read more
We thank the Arts Council England for their support and assistance in this interactive Project.
This website ©2000-2013 Carcanet Press Ltd