This Room
--John Ashbery 
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.

PBS had a brief remembrance of John Ashbery when he died a few weeks ago. Included was an interview but I wouldn’t recommend paying a whole lot of attention to it as John Ashbery did not like interviews. From Interview magazine:

ASHBERY: I don't read my poems very much after I've written them besides at a reading. I put them away and then it's on to something else. I mean, I'd love to say yes, and that would be wonderful for this interview, but I'm just not good interview material. And yet, people always want to interview me. And, of course, the interview is a tragic fact of our time.
ASHBERY: In order not to deal with things, people interview them or their creator.
FITZGERALD: The interview's a form for people to avoid encountering the art itself?
ASHBERY: I probably shouldn't be saying this for Interview magazine.

Instead I make the PBS reference for the comments section. EarthSpeak provides a good rundown for everything John Ashbery wasn’t, which is as a good place to start as any for appreciating his poetry. Now why the general public largely expects strict sanctimonious authenticity from poetry, unlike all other art forms where non-utilitarian facets are widely accepted and enjoyed on a daily basis, I’m not too sure. Possibly I can blame the politicians.

No comments: