My Favorite Ashbery Poems

for Sue

Al Filreis recently published a list of John Ashbery poems that he deems “indispensable to an understanding of Ashbery’s writing.” Here is my list – quite different than Filreis’s. As a friend pointed out, if everyone publishes their own list of “indispensables”, we’ll probably end up with the entire oeuvre! This reminded me of a feeling I had when I first began reading Ashbery. ‘We’re walking in the same forest,’ I thought, ‘but by different paths.’

from Some Trees
Some Trees

from Rivers and Mountains
These Lacustrine Cities
[hear me read this poem]

from The Double Dream of Spring
Soonest Mended
Variations, Calypso and Fugue on a Theme of Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Farm Implements and Rutabagas in a Landscape
Definition of Blue
Sortes Vergilianae

Three Poems

from Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror
Grand Galop
Mixed Feelings
The One Thing That Can Save America
On Autumn Lake
No Way of Knowing
Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror

from Houseboat Days
The Explanation
Wet Casements
Houseboat Days
Ut Pictura Poesis Is Her Name
The Wrong Kind of Insurance

from As We Know
Sleeping in the Corners of Our Lives
Flowering Death
Knocking Around
A Box and its Contents
The Other Cindy

from Shadow Train
Indelible, Inedible

from A Wave
When the Sun Went Down
Just Walking Around
But What is the Reader to Make of This?
Down By the Station, Early in the Morning
Description of a Masque
Haibun 6
Never Seek to Tell Thy Love
Darlene’s Hospital
One of the Most Extraordinary Things in Life
Whatever it is, Wherever You Are

from April Galleons
Morning Jitters
Sighs and Inhibitions
Someone You Have Seen Before
Winter Weather Advisory
Never to Get It Really Right
The Ice Storm


from Hotel Lautréamont
Notes from the Air
Hotel Lautréamont
From Estuaries, from Casinos
Part of the Superstition
A Mourning Forbidding Valediction
Just Wednesday
In My Way/On My Way

from And the Stars Were Shining
The Ridiculous Translator’s Hopes
The Improvement
Sometimes in Places

from Can You Hear, Bird
Atonal Music
Chronic Symbiosis
Military Pastoral
My Philosophy of Life
No Longer Very Clear

from Wakefulness
One Man’s Poem

from Your Name Here
Honored Guest

from Chinese Whispers
Real Time
Heavenly Days

from Where Shall I Wander
Novelty Love Trot

from A Worldly Country
A Worldly Country
Anticipated Stranger,

from Quick Question
Homeless Heart

from Breezeway
Chinese Fire Drill
Strange Reaction
By Guess and By Gosh

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2 Responses to My Favorite Ashbery Poems

  1. Susan Scheid says:

    Ah, hooray! I’m so pleased to have this list; there is so much Ashbery yet to explore, and I can hardly wait. It’s an enormous delight to have you as a partner on this journey. I can’t thank you enough for opening the door to this poetry, which has indeed changed my life.

  2. Pingback: My 10 favorite American poets | The Mockingbird Sings

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