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The New York Poets: an anthology

John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch, Frank O'Hara and James Schuyler

Edited by Mark Ford

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Paperback
ISBN: 978 1 857547 34 4
Categories: 20th Century, 21st Century, American, Anthologies
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: March 2004
220 x 154 x 19 mm
224 pages
Publisher: Carcanet Press
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  • "They Dream Only Of America"

    They dream only of America
    To be lost among the thirteen million pillars of grass:
    "This honey is delicious
    Though it burns the throat."

    And hiding from darkness in barns
    They can be grownups now
    And the murderer's ash tray is more easily--
    The lake a lilac cube.

    He holds a key in his right hand.
    "Please," he asked willingly.
    He is thirty years old.
    That was before

    We could drive hundreds of miles
    At night through dandelions.
    When his headache grew worse we
    Stopped at a wire filling station.

    Now he cared only about signs.
    Was the cigar a sign?
    And what about the key?
    He went slowly into the bedroom.

    "I would not have broken my leg if I had not fallen
    Against the living room table. What is it to be back
    Beside the bed? There is nothing to do
    For our liberation, except wait in the horror of it.

    And I am lost without you."

    John Ashbery

    For the first time, The New York Poets gathers in a single volume the best work of four extraordinary poets: Frank O'Hara, John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch, and James Schuyler. By the early 1950s all four were settled in Manhattan, collaborating, competing and encouraging each other's radical experiments with language and form. Much of their work reflects their participation in the creative energies of the New York art scene, 'the floods of paint', to quote James Schuyler, 'in whose crashing surf we all scramble'. Believing that anything could be material for a poem, they transformed American poetry with their irreverent wit and daring.

    Mark Ford's anthology is an essential introduction to four poets whose work has influenced poetry around the world. It includes detailed background information and a substantial bibliography.
      
    Table of Contents

    Introduction - Mark Ford

    Select Bibliography



    Frank O'Hara

    Autobiographia Literaria

    Poem (At night Chinamen jump)

    Poem (The eager note on my door said "Call me/)

    Memorial Day 1950

    A Pleasant Thought from Whitehead

    Blocks

    Homosexuality

    Meditations in an Emergency

    Music

    Poem (There I could never be a boy,)

    To the Harbormaster

    At the Old Place

    My Heart

    To the Film Industry in Crisis

    Radio

    In Memory of My Feelings

    A Step Away from Them

    Why I Am Not a Painter

    Poem Read at Joan Mitchell's

    Anxiety

    A True Account of Talking to the Sun at Fire Island

    To Gottfried Benn

    The Day Lady Died

    Adieu to Norman, Bon Jour to Joan and Jean-Paul

    Joe's Jacket

    You Are Gorgeous and I'm Coming

    Poem (Khrushchev is coming on the right day!)

    Getting Up Ahead of Someone (Sun)

    Steps

    Ave Maria

    Poem (Lana Turner has collapsed!)

    First Dances

    Fantasy





    John Ashbery

    The Picture of Little J.A. in a Prospect of Flowers

    Some Trees

    The Painter

    "They Dream Only of America"

    A Last World

    These Lacustrine Cities

    from The Skaters

    Soonest Mended

    Farm Implements and Rutabagas in a Landscape

    Definition of Blue

    The One Thing That Can Save America

    City Afternoon

    Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror

    Street Musicians

    Pyrography

    Wet Casements

    Daffy Duck in Hollywood

    As We Know

    At North Farm

    A Driftwood Altar

    The History of My Life



    Kenneth Koch

    Fresh Air

    You Were Wearing

    Variations on a Theme by William Carlos Williams

    The Circus

    Fate

    The Simplicity of the Unknown Past

    To Marina

    Days and Nights

    1. The Invention of Poetry

    2. The Stones of Time

    3. The Secret

    4. Out and In

    5. Days and Nights

    One Train May Hide Another

    A Time Zone



    James Schuyler

    February

    May 24th or so

    Buried at Springs

    Empathy and New Year

    An East Window on Elizabeth Street

    A Gray Thought

    To Frank O'Hara

    Shimmer

    October

    The Bluet

    Hymn to Life

    June 30,1974

    Korean Mums

    Wystan Auden

    Dining Out With Doug and Frank

    The Payne Whitney Poems

    Trip

    We Walk

    Arches

    Linen

    Heather and Calendulas

    Back

    Blizzard

    February 13,1975

    Sleep

    Pastime

    What

    The Snowdrop

    En Route to Southampton

    Faure's Second Piano Quartet



    Index of First Lines

    Index of Titles

    John Ashbery
    John Ashbery was born in Rochester, New York, in 1927. He has published more than twenty collections of poetry, beginning in 1953 with Turandot and Other Poems.  His art writings are collected in Reported Sightings: Art Chronicles 1957–1987 (Carcanet, 1990) and his literary essays appear in the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures, ... read more
    Kenneth Koch
    Kenneth Koch is grouped with John Ashbery, Frank O'Hara and James Schuyler, a grouping which tends to underplay the real differences between each poet's projects; their collaborations were inventive because of their differences, not their similarities, and what marks all four is the ability to work at tangents without ... read more
    James Schuyler
    James Schuyler was born in Chicago on 9 November 1923. He attended Bethany College of West Virginia from 1941 to 1943. In the late 40s he moved to New York City where he worked for NBC and befriended W. H. Auden. He later moved to Italy, where he lived in Auden's ... read more
    Mark Ford
    Mark Ford was born in 1962. His publications include two collections of poetry, Landlocked (Chatto & Windus 1991, 1998) and Soft Sift (Faber & Faber 2001, Harcourt Brace 2003); a critical biography of the French poet, playwright and novelist Raymond Roussel ( Raymond Roussel and the Republic of Dreams, Faber ... read more
    Awards won by John Ashbery Winner, 1997  Gold Medal for Poetry Winner, 2001 Wallace Stevens Award Winner, 1995 Robert Frost Medal Winner, 1976 National Book Critics Circle Award (Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror) Winner, 1976 National Book Award (Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror) Winner, 1976 Pulitzer Award (Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror)
    Praise for John Ashbery 'A fine collection of poems rooted in 21st-century America.'
    Robert McCrum, The Observer
     'More than a century after Arthur Rimbaud composed his Illuminations they are reborn in John Ashbery’s mangnificent translation. It is fitting that the major American poet since Hart Crane and Wallace Stevens should give us this noble version of the precursor of all three.'
    Harold Bloom
    'Quick Question, with the hushed intensity of its music and great lyric beauty, could only be Ashbery.'
    Ian Thomson, Financial Times
    The book invites the reader to poetic gluttony. It serves as a corrective to the monoglot provincialism by which the Anglophone world is still bedevilled.
    Sean O'€™Brien, Independent
     'The lyrics in Breezeway, a new collection by the octogenarian poet John Ashbery are as good as his finest. I especially like the final poem, poignantly reprising the last line of Keats' Ode to a Nightingale', "Do I wake or sleep?"'
    Salley Vickers, The Observer - The New Review, 29.11.2015.
       '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
      '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
     '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 clichĂ© 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

    Praise for Frank O'Hara 'O'Hara's hip, glamorous, freewheeling self-celebrations both reflected and helped disseminate a new kind of confidence and daring in American poetry.' Mark Ford 'Wonderful, original poems... He was an essential contact-man between  the worlds of painting and poetry. And he suggested a rich and fascinating dialogue between them.' Eavan Boland
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