Quote of the Day
Congratulations to Carcanet for paying equal attention to new poets and to modern classics. The Collected H.D., Mina Loy, William Carlos Williams, and Yvor Winters are all essential books, and Carcanet is doing a public service keeping them in print.
Subscribe to our mailing list
Girls on the Run
ISBN: 978 1 857544 35 0
Categories: 20th Century, American
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: September 1999
216 x 135 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
To everyone's surprise the bus stopped.
Our stalwart little band of angels got on it, and were taken for a ride
Into the next chapter, a dim place of curlicues and bas-reliefs.
from Girls on the Run
'Did you read that book I was telling you about? Ach, it concerns puberty.'
Girls on the Run, a poem in twenty-one chapters, is written 'after Henry Darger' (1892-1972), the 'outsider' American artist who toiled for decades, tracing images from comic strips, colouring books and other ephemeral sources, creating an enormous illustrated novel about the adventures of a plucky band of little girls. Ashbery provides a species of verse translation of Darger's haunted, faux-innocent images of tumbling, frolicking, fleeing children. 'An illustration changes us' the poem says, introducing us to the dramatis personae of his and Darger's hybrid world: Tidbit, Dimples, Pete, Pliable, Dave, Uncle Margaret (and his wren ranch), Aunt Clara, Persnickety Peggy and dozens more, not forgetting Rags the Dog or Mr McPlaster, the school principal.
Does chapter ten veer into the poet's own autobiography? Do Darger's images trip an early nerve in memory? This isn't narrative as such - with Ashbery it's never narrative as such - but characters, fears and desires come and come again, erratic pulses, passions. There is the joy of losing the 'I' in the wild momentum of the gang.
Eros is everywhere, ripe-cheeked, mischievous, yet there's no consummation or repose: in the end the sweet, sinister world of the poem is, like the world of Darger's pictures, like the world itself, a smiling avenue, a burning carousel. Ah, 'But I am getting ahead of my story.'
You might also be interested in:
The Carcanet Blog Mumming and Poetry by John Redmond read more Two Worlds of Mourning: Walt Whitman and Abraham Lincoln’s Death read more War's End: Abraham Lincoln, April 1865 by David C. Ward read more A Carcanet Poet Abroad: Homecoming read more A Carcanet Poet Abroad: The Next Chapter read more A Carcanet Poet Abroad: Jenny Lewis in Morocco read more
We thank the Arts Council England for their support and assistance in this interactive Project.
This website ©2000-2015 Carcanet Press Ltd