The collage takes its name from the poem “The Pie District” in John Ashbery’s collection Breezeway. Many of Ashbery’s lifelong preoccupations and motifs are present in this poem, or so it seems to me. Just as one glimpse, in reading the second stanza, I think of What Is Poetry: “In school/All the thought got combed out,” and from Soonest Mended, this:
. . . the avatars
Of our conforming to the rules and living
Around the home have made—well, in a sense, “good citizens” of us,
Brushing the teeth and all that, and learning to accept
The charity of the hard moments as they are doled out,
The title and reference to it in the poem takes me back to Part IV of The Skaters and its allusions to classical Chinese poetry, though this marks only a small aspect of the poem’s “goofy elixir/locked in its dark depths.”
The Pie District refers to a “bandoneon.” I learned that Astor Piazzolla is considered not only a modern master of the instrument, but also the composer credited (or blamed, depending on one’s perspective) with revolutionizing the tango. When I went in search of his music, however, I kept coming back to Giya Kancheli‘s Instead of a Tango. . . instead. That is all the reason or excuse I can offer for presenting it here now.
Kancheli’s work is included in an album, featuring the brilliant violinist Gidon Kremer, that includes mostly Astor Piazzolla’s work, and may be heard in its entirely on Spotify here. Since Spotify’s metadata is, well, spotty, this link will help readers parse which works are Piazzolla’s, which are not, and which are somewhere in between.
Credits: The text in the collage, aside from the title of the Ashbery poem to which the collage relates, accompanied the description of the image of the woman with the bird on her shoulder. The image and underlying collage, as always on the blog unless otherwise indicated, are mine.