This collage, the last in the series, pays homage to the title poem “Breezeway” in John Ashbery’s newest collection. One is always guided, if not controlled, by one’s materials. I had no red shutters, no Batman, and no whipped cream; there were scores of other things I did not have—but what I do have is the spirit of the poem to guide me. As I chose images and cut and pasted, it struck me that Ashbery is, at bottom, an optimistic man, with a head full of wonder, wit, and whimsy and a limitless capacity to create. Continue reading
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: Continue reading
The collage pays homage to John Ashbery’s poem “Heading Out” in the volume Breezeway. John Ashbery’s poem “Auburn-Tinted Fences,” in his volume Quick Question, includes the word “glacis.” After reading the poem at an Interview hosted by Al Filreis, February 12, 2013, [item 3 at ~4:10], Ashbery quipped, “I wonder if what I was really trying to do was to fit the word glacis into a poem. I’m not entirely sure what it means.” [listen to the audio here] I suspect the same might be true for “sockdolager,” which Ashbery uses in “Heading Out.” “Heading Out” is, itself, a sockdolager of a poem, about which this collage offers but a glancing glimpse. Continue reading
The collage pays homage to John Ashbery’s poem “Forget Where I Heard It” in the volume Breezeway. Ashbery had me at the title of this poem, yet there is so much more. I searched for peas and beans to shape a coma, as might be suggested by the poem’s middle stanza, but I couldn’t find them, which is probably just as well. (What is in his head that arrives at such lines?) Then, in the final stanza, he makes utter sense, reminding me, in ways that may seem oblique to anyone else, of Alice Goodman’s text for Chou En-Lai’s plaintive aria at the close of John Adams’s Nixon in China: “How much of what we did was good/Everything seems to move beyond our remedy.” [citation] Continue reading
The segments of the trip swing open like an orange.
There is light in there, and mystery and food.
—John Ashbery, Just Walking Around
The photographs were taken on September walks in Innisfree Garden, on the Walkway Over the Hudson, and in Beacon’s Long Dock Park. They are grouped by location, and the first photograph from each new location is indicated by label. Continue reading