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Saturday, September 2, 2017

No 'hollow places' in great poems

“I like poems you can tack all over with a hammer and there are no hollow places.” – John Ashbery
I’ve written of Ashbery before, but wanted to share another of his poems.  Ashbery, who turned 90 this summer, is one of America’s greatest, having won nearly every major poetry award, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Griffin International Award, and a MacArthur “Genius” Grant.   To spend a few hours immersed in language         and its myriad possibilities, pick up a copy of his Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror or the languid and moving Houseboat Days.

"Few poets have so cleverly manipulated, or just plain tortured, our soiled desire for meaning,” noted critic William Logan.  “[Ashbery] reminds us that most poets who give us meaning don't know what they're talking about."    Here for Saturday’s Poem is Ashbery’s,
                         This Room
The room I entered was a dream of this room.
Surely all those feet on the sofa were mine.
The oval portrait
of a dog was me at an early age.
Something shimmers, something is hushed up.

We had macaroni for lunch every day
except Sunday, when a small quail was induced
to be served to us. Why do I tell you these things?
You are not even here.

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