John Ashbery & Charles Wright
New books this year from Charles Wright & John Ashbery . . .
I've always linked these two poets in my imagination, though I imagine that they wouldn't link themselves in their own conceptualizations of the thing.
There's something in their continuances that fascinates me, and gives me hope of a way out of "poems" and into the engagement of "poetry." That's always been something of a goal of mine, to get into and out of writing "poems." There comes a time when I weary of poems, with their starts, middles, and stops. I weary of the continual up and at it.
So I'm thinking of the failure of poems in Ashbery and Wright. The failure, yes, and the larger success of the poetry itself. Ashbery, who is so epiphany haunted that his poems are always concluding, and Wright, with his presence/absence haunting, that cause his poems to continually ephemerate . . .
The older I get, the more important these two moves become to my thinking.
And both are failures of the goal, as it seems to me. In Ashbery, the failure of the attempt that the imagination can live forever in its continuous present, and in Wright, the failure that there is something inherent in this present that can live us into the future . . .
And both, it seems, continue with the simple, but profound on a daily basis thought that in the face of the failure of attaining the goal, perhaps the looking for the thing suffices to become the thing.
At least that's how I'm thinking of it this summer, reading these two wonderful books.
John Ashbery, The Worldly Country
Charles Wright, Littlefoot