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Where Shall I Wander

John Ashbery

Cover Picture of Where Shall I Wander
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Paperback
ISBN: 978 1 857547 94 8
Categories: 20th Century, 21st Century, American
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: April 2005
210 x 135 x 8 mm
80 pages
Publisher: Carcanet Press
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  • It's really quite a thrill
    When the moon rises above the hill
    And you've gotten over someone
    Salty and mercurial, the only person you ever loved.
    from 'Retro'

    John Ashbery's new collection of fifty-one poems ends with the substantial piece that gives the book its title. Composed in stanzaic prose, it is a fine specimen of his distinctive courtship mode, wooing the language with language, teasing it and teasing out of it a Protean lover that loves Protean him back: a you, an I, in a wild variety of registers and postures.

    Throughout Where Shall I Wander the effable and ineffable are in dialogue; time ('then' and 'now') and the stable moments of the poem are within earshot of one another, but cannot ever quite touch hands. There are ghosts and presences, some unexpected like Ali Baba, Arabia Deserta (down to the turning spit and braised goat) and Mrs Hanratty's apron; others like H?rlin are more insistently entertained, in a poetry that fractures and reinvents syntax, cadence and our sense of beauty, this tribute informed by the terror of H?rlin's later world in which it is impossible not to share.

    Table of Contents

    Ignorance of the Law Is No Excuse 1

    O Fortuna 2

    Affordable Variety 3

    Days of Reckoning 4

    Wastrel 6

    Coma Berenices 7

    The New Higher 12

    In Those Days 13

    A Visit to the House of Fools 14

    Dryness of Mouth 15

    Involuntary Description 16

    Hölderlin Marginalia 17

    Told Her to Get On with It 23

    The Weather, for Example 24

    And Counting 26

    You Spoke as a Child 27

    Interesting People of Newfoundland 28

    Broken Tulips 30

    Retro 31

    Capital O 33

    Annuals and Perennials 35

    Wolf Ridge 36

    When I Saw the Invidious Flare 37

    Heavy Home 39

    The Situation Upstairs 41

    ¬Well-¬Lit Places 43

    Meaningful Love 44

    More Feedback 46

    Lost Footage 47

    The Red Easel 49

    Novelty Love Trot 50

    The Template 52

    From China to Peru 53

    Idea of the Forest 55

    The Injured Party 56

    A Darning Egg 57

    Wild City 58

    The Bled Weasel 60

    A Below Par Star 61

    The Snow Stained Petals Aren't Pretty Any More 62

    Tension in the Rocks 64

    Counterpane 65

    Two Million Violators 67

    Sonnet: More of Same 68

    The Love Interest 69

    Composition 70

    John Ashbery was born in Rochester, New York in 1927. He earned degrees from Harvard and Columbia, and went to France as a Fulbright Scholar in 1955, living there for much of the next decade. His most recent book of poetry is Commotion of the Birds, (2016). Other collections include Breezeway ... 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)
    'A fine collection of poems rooted in 21st-century America.'
    Robert McCrum, The Observer
    Praise for John Ashbery  '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

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