Parallel Movement of the Hands: Five Unfinished Longer Works

John Ashbery, edited by Emily Skillings. Ecco, $22.99 (128p) ISBN 978-0-06-296885-2
Edited and introduced by Skillings, Ashbery’s former assistant, and with a preface by Ben Lerner, this landmark collection gathers unpublished long poems by Ashbery composed between 1993 and 2007. The renowned poet’s style, often challenging the limits of expression on the page, is on full display throughout. “The History of Photography” opens: “First takers, first makers./ The first sip of intelligence/ splits the diapered sky, already crackled/ with the losses that events are.” Later in the poem, he writes, “And we be on the sand more than each other,/ more than to each other. A last chance of sorts,/ gayer than the other, more in a mood to celebrate/ the mood. Planted on the leeward side.” The poem “The Art of Finger Dexterity” begins with a similarly thoughtful, atmospheric gesture: “A light rain, a walk in the proverbial park./ The unknown crowds around us, then dissipates/ like a crowd losing interest.” Reproduced facsimiles of Ashbery’s typed pages offer a fascinating glimpse of the poet’s revision process, with words crossed out and substituted. Fans of Ashbery will delight in this appealing and important addition to his oeuvre. (June)
Reviewed on : 05/13/2021
Release date: 06/15/2021
Genre: Poetry
Ebook - 128 pages - 978-0-06-296887-6
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