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Parallel Movement of the Hands

Five Unfinished Longer Works

John Ashbery

Edited by Emily Skillings

Foreword by Ben Lerner

Cover of Parallel Movement of the Hands by John Ashbery
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Categories: 21st Century, American, LGBTQ+
Imprint: Carcanet Classics
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (320 pages)
(Pub. Jun 2021)
9781800170933
£16.99 £15.29
  • Description
  • Author
  • Awards
  • Reviews
  • Parallel Movement of the Hands collects five long, serial poems (and prose poems) which John Ashbery left unfinished and will become part of his archive at Harvard University's Houghton Library.

    'In-progress and realised' as their editor Emily Skillings puts it, these abundant poems are characteristic of the mature work of this American master, an adept of the glories of American speech, who is alert to its insinuating logics and its wild goose chases through popular culture and secret histories. In these poems, Carl Czerny rubs shoulders with the Hardy Boys, Robert Mapplethorpe and Eadweard Muybridge, all of them integrated into Ashbery's generous, omnivorous forms. 'How could I have had such a good idea?' the poet asks in 'The History of Photography'. So many good ideas, such a wealth of surprising points of departure.
    John Ashbery
    John Ashbery was born in Rochester, New York, in 1927. His books of poetry include Breezeway ; Quick Question ; Planisphere ; Notes from the Air: Selected Later Poems, which was awarded the 2008 International Griffin Poetry Prize; A Worldly Country ; Where Shall I Wander ; and Self-Portrait in ... read more
    Emily Skillings
    Emily Skillings is the author of the poetry collection Fort Not (2017), which Publishers Weekly called a 'fabulously eccentric, hypnotic, and hypervigilant debut.' She is a member of the Belladonna* Collaborative, a feminist poetry collective, small press, and event series in Brooklyn. She received her MFA from Columbia University School of ... read more
    Ben Lerner
    Ben Lerner is the author of seven books of poetry and prose. His most recent book is the novel The Topeka School (2019), which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. The recipient of fellowships from the Fulbright, Guggenheim, and MacArthur foundations, he is a Distinguished Professor of English at Brooklyn ... 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)
    'This is an exciting missing piece of the jigsaw for Ashbery enthusiasts. Here language fizzes with a vital "off-kilter quality" and an Ashberian state of open-ended possibility.'

    The Poetry Book Society Summer Bulletin

    Praise for John Ashbery 'I'll keep returning to The Wave, knowing that each time I do, I'll connect with poems, and lines in poems, I haven't noticed before and recconect with those that have resonated already'
    Pam Thompson, The North
    'John Ashbery's final collection of poetry disguises itself well as a mid-career high. The energy and modernity of his strange little worlds tell nothing of his age.'
    Stand Magazine


      'More than a century after Arthur Rimbaud composed his Illuminations they are reborn in John Ashbery's magnificent 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
    '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 magnificent 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.
      '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 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
        '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
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