90 LINES FOR JOHN ASHBERY’S 90TH BIRTHDAY

90 LINES FOR JOHN ASHBERY_SJIM JARMUSCH, JAVIER MARÍAS, EILEEN MYLES, AND 87 OTHERS ON FAVORITE LINES BY A GREAT POET

By Literary Hub

We’ll make do,

another day, shopping and such, bringing the meat home at night

all roseate and gleaming, ready for the frying pan.

our names will be read off a rollcall we won’t hear—

how could we? We’re not even born yet—the stars will perform their dance

privately, for us, and the pictures in the great black book

that opens at night will enchant us with their yellow harmonies.

We’ll manage to get back, someday, to the tie siding where the idea

of all this began, frustrated and a little hungry, but eager

to hear each others’ tales of what went on in the interim

of our long lives, what the tea leaves said

and whether it turned out that way. I’ll brush your bangs

a little, you’ll lean against my hip for comfort.

                       –John Ashbery, “The Underwriters,” Your Name Here (2000)
.

To celebrate the beloved American poet John Ashbery turning 90 today [July 28, 2017], we invited 90 of his dearest friends, collaborators, and admirers to pick a favorite line from his vast published corpus (the second volume of his Collected Poems, 1991-2000, will be published this October with Library of America) and write about it in 90 words or fewer. Ashbery’s poetic career now spans over six decades and includes more than 20 books of original poetry, the most recent being Commotion of the Birds (Ecco, 2016). His work has profoundly shaped, influenced, irritated, vexed, puzzled and/or pleased its world of readers ever since little JA began writing. His very first poem was penned in 1935, when he was eight years old: “The tall haystacks are great sugar mounds / These are the fairies’ camping grounds.”

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