Eleven Essays I’m Not Writing about Contemporary Poetry

The Philadelphia Review of Books


by Zach Savich


“Another Age of Ashbery.” For decades John Ashbery has been lauded as the heir to Wallace Stevens’ tenderly reflective pentameters and grave bric-a-brac; indeed, Harold Bloom has dubbed the time since Stevens’ death, “The Age of Ashbery.” But does this emphasis on Ashbery’s elegance – his hospitably elegiac romanticism – ignore the more roughshod, implosive, harder-to-anthologize Ashbery who has translated Rimbaud and Reverdy? Thesis: this woolier side of Ashbery has more bearing on many, many recent books (i.e., the two books I most recently read) by poets such as Farnoosh Fathi, author of Great Guns (Canarium, 2013) and Rauan Klassnik, author of The Moon’s Jaw (Black Ocean, 2012)? Set up this point by proving that Ashbery is Rilke (say something like, “Robert Hass describes Rilke’s Duino Elegies as ‘the nearest thing in the writing of the twentieth century to the flight of birds’; Ashbery, who titled…

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