SELF-PORTRAIT IN A CONVEX MIRROR by John Ashbery

SELF-PORTRAIT IN A CONVEX MIRROR

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This aptly titled new collection--the seventh--from the avant-garde aesthete is to be greeted with one hand clapping and the other scratching one's head. Ashbery is as much concerned with mind and form as Wallace Stevens, but in Ashbery's case, the words are not ""composed"" so much as they quirkily ""occur."" Luckily for us, his style also includes self-analysis that establishes his solipsism once and for all: ""I know that I braid too much my own snapped-off perceptions of things as they come to me. They are private and always will be."" Furthermore, he knows that through the mysterious alchemy that poetry ultimately is, these poems are as magnetic and charged as they are obscure. Their own absurd arbitrariness, their tangle of indecisions and open questions, their rush of fragmentary imagery and endless linguistic ambiguities are so much more fun than the clipped formal gardens of a poet like Stevens. If nothing is finally knowable, as Ashbery suggests, then this whirlwind of journalistic ""ideas about thoughts,"" ""of large unfinished concepts that can never bring themselves to the point of being,"" is the most viable approach to the abstract. The long title poem, by the way, is a masterpiece.

Pub Date: May 15th, 1975
ISBN: 0140586687
Publisher: Viking