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A Worldly Country
ISBN: 978 1 857549 19 5
Categories: 20th Century, 21st Century, American
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: February 2007
216 x 135 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Our representative will be contacting you,
but meanwhile it is important not to move
or in any way betray your whereabouts to the listening
enemy. His sense of place is long,
but not endless. Mirage control has sealed the borders
with light and the endless diffidence light begets.
John Ashbery's new collection speaks from the haunted, ambiguous cities of the twenty-first century. These are the landscapes of the worldly country we have created, both ominous and absurd. Perspectives dissolve into dazzle. The clock is ticking: we are on the wrong set and the cameras are rolling. Ashbery's supple, vigorous idiom conjures an unpredictable world, astonished by moments of piercing directness: the pause to share a winter pear, the sudden apprehension that the places we left fallow 'will be cultivated by another'. A Worldly Country tells us where we are, now exhilarating, now vertiginous; full of heartbreak and (as always with Ashbery) full of every kind of mirth, from the most sombre to the most enchanted.
'Wallace Stevens once remarked that while we possess the great poems of heaven and hell, the great poems of the earth remain to be written. Ashbery is writing those poems' - Boston Review
'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, Times Literary Supplement
'This is what real achievement in a contemporary poet consists of: he has laid down guidelines and made his mark on the language of the tribe.' - John Bayley, New York Review of Books
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