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John Ashbery’s Planisphere


Pulitzer Prize winning poet John Ashbery (who is also an ambassador of the Library's LGBT Committee) just came out with a delicious new book of poems. Planisphere has all of the vision, humor, slant observation, and colloquial intelligence for which Ashbery is famous. The new poems also have a careful intimacy and elegiac sense, which were noted in the New York Times' glowing review.  I've been reading it back and forth all week; my favorite poems so far is "Episode":

"In old days, when they tried to figure out
how to write the sweetest melodies, they fell
on a bed, chewed the pillow. A moon rankled
in the crevices of a shutter. In 1935
the skirts were long and flared slightly,
suitably. Hats shaded part of the face.
Lipstick was fudgy and encouraging. There was
music in the names of the years. 1937
was welcoming too, though one bit one's lip
preparing for the pain to come..." 

For more of Ashbery's work make sure to check out the first volume of his Collected Poems, released last year by Library of America.


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