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John Ashbery

From the Archives

Accidental Abundance

1988md 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


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That Ship Has Sailed
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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