One of the most honored poets in the United States, John Ashbery has won nearly every major American poetry award. He has been compared to T.S. Eliot and Walt Whitman, Ezra Pound and Wallace Stevens and remains, at the age of 81, both creative and controversial.
The Library of America has just published the first volume of Ashbery’s Collected Poems and tonight he read from the volume at the 92nd Street Y. Anyone who thinks Americans don’t appreciate poetry would have been proved wrong tonight, as the sellout crowd swarmed from the packed auditorium to the lobby, where they snatched up books of Ashbery’s works, then stood on line for hours, patiently waiting for the old poet to inscribe them.
My Erotic Double
He says he doesn’t feel like working today.
It’s just as well. Here in the shade
Behind the house, protected from street noises,
One can go over all kinds of old feeling,
Throw some away, keep others.
Between us gets very intense when there are
Fewer feelings around to confuse things.
Another go-round? No, but the last things
You always find to say are charming, and rescue me
Before the night does. We are afloat
On our dreams as on a barge made of ice,
Shot through with questions and fissures of starlight
That keep us awake, thinking about the dreams
As they are happening. Some occurrence. You said it.
I said it but I can hide it. But I choose not to.
Thank you. You are a very pleasant person.
Thank you. You are too.
Copyright (c) 1981, 2005, John Ashbery, all rights reserved.