John Ashbery

I’ve been reading old issues of the New Yorker at lunch time recently. (I’m still working through the backlog of issues from the last time I had a subscription.) Earlier this week, I came across a poem by John Ashbery. I first read his poetry back when I was in college, for a class, and remember enjoying it. I don’t usually like most of the poetry in the New Yorker, but once in a while something clicks. So it got me thinking about Ashbery and maybe picking up a book of his work. I checked Amazon, and was surprised to see that the first few I looked at weren’t available for the Kindle.

I didn’t think too much about it, but I stumbled across this old article from the NY Times today, which explains a few things. It makes sense, and it’s good to know that I can pick up a number of his books in ebook format, though they’re kind of expensive. The 100-page Three Poems is $15 on Kindle, while the 1000-page hardcover Collected Poems is just under $30. So you can get the complete text of his first dozen books in a nice hardcover for $30, or an ebook of just one for $15. That doesn’t make much sense to me, but I guess I shouldn’t look for sense in the pricing of poetry books and ebooks.

I don’t understand nearly enough about poetry to tell you why John Ashbery is good, and why I like his work. But I’ve been thinking lately that poetry acts on the brain in a way that’s different from other prose, and perhaps it’s beneficial to read some, now and then.

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