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Can You Hear, Bird

John Ashbery

Can you Hear, Bird by John Ashbery
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This title is available for academic inspection (paperback only).
Paperback
ISBN: 978 1 857542 24 0
Categories: 20th Century, American, LGBTQ+
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: February 1996
216 x 135 x 7 mm
128 pages
Publisher: Carcanet Press
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  • Description
  • Excerpt
  • Author
  • Awards
  • Reviews
  • Meanwhile, back in
    soulless America, people are having fun
    as usual.

    from 'You Would Have Thought'


    After John Ashbery's 216-page poem Flow Chart (1991) and the munificence of Hotel Lautréamont (1992) and And the Stars were Shining (1994), Can You Hear, Bird provides an A to Y of poems, moments in which voices, images and tones come in for Ashbery's wily attentions. The poems are generally short. But when we get to T, 'Tuesday Evening' occurs. Tuesday evenings are long in Ashbery's America. This Tuesday begins in tight rhymed quatrains; as the evening extends, the verse relaxes to elicit and swallow up more and more, until only rhyme pins together the abundance of impulse and reflection. An ars poetica seems to emerge:

    An alphabet is forming words. We who watch them
    never imagine pronouncing them, and another opportunity
    is missed. You must be awake to catch them —
    them, and the scent they give off with impunity.

    We all tagged along, and in the end there was nothing
    to see — nothing and a lot. A lot in terms of contour, texture,
    world. That sort of thing. The real fun and its clothing


    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
    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 '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
You might also be interested in:
Cover of Collected Poems 1956-1987
Collected Poems 1956-1987 John Ashbery,
Edited by Mark Ford
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