In discussing the supposed gulf between abstract and representational art, the late French painter Jean Helion wrote in his journal: "I wonder . . . whether all the valid painting being done today doesn't bear certain resemblances which escape us at the present time." One could wonder the same thing about poetry, but in the meantime, while we wait for uniform utopia, the dissimilarities -- the splintering, the impurity -- could be those of life itself. Life is what present American poetry gets to seem more like, and the more angles we choose to view it from, the more its amazing accidental abundance imposes itself.
-- John Ashbery
The Best American Poetry 1988