Girls on the Run by John Ashbery
A Poem

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This work is a poem loosely based on the works of the "outsider" artist Henry Darger (1892-1972), a recluse who toiled for decades at an enormous illustrated novel about the adventures of a plucky band of little girls. The Vivians are threatened by human tormentors, supernatural demons and cataclysmic storms; their calmer moments are passed in Edenic landscapes. Darger traced the figures from comic strips, colouring books and other ephemeral sources, filling in the backgrounds with luscious watercolour. John Ashbery's "Girls on the Run" creates a similar childlike world of dreamy landscapes, lurking terror and veiled eroticism. Its fractured narrative mode almost (but never quite) coalesces into a surrealist adventure story.

About John Ashbery

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John Ashbery was born on July 28, 1927 in Rochester, New York. He was educated at Harvard and Columbia universities and studied in Europe on a Fulbright Scholarship. Initially wishing to be a painter, then a musician, he has had a variety of careers including reference librarian and art critic. In the early 1950s, he was a copywriter with Oxford University Press and McGraw-Hill. His collection of poems, Turandot and other Poems, published in 1953, established his reputation as one of the leading American poets of his generation. Ashbery feels strongly influenced by film and other art forms. The abstract expressionist movement in art had a profound effect on his writing style. Frequently termed a philosophical poet, Ashbery's poems often deal with the mind and the connection of the reader. Ashbery has published several volumes of poetry, including Houseboat Days and Flow Chart. Highly regarded by critics, he received a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, and a National Book Critics Circle Award in 1976, all for Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. He received the Ambassador Book Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. In 2011, he won the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He also writes under the pseudonym Jonas Berry.
Published September 9, 2014 by Open Road Media. 96 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Girls on the Run

Kirkus Reviews

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/ at others, a smidgen of fun would intrude on our day, / which exists to be intruded upon anyway.” As vital, rambunctious, inventive, and outsiderish as ever.

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Publishers Weekly

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This beautiful long poem presents Ashbery at his most contradictory: it is both his most Homeric and narrative long poem, yet at the same time his most joissant, collage-based work in years. It bo

Mar 29 1999 | Read Full Review of Girls on the Run: A Poem

Publishers Weekly

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Now some of you, five at least, must go over in that little shack./ I'll follow with the tidal waves, and see what happens next."" Classic Surrealism erupts frequently in well-timed bursts: ""The tame suburban landscape excited him./ He had met his match./ Dimples replaced the mollusk with shoe-t...

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Boston Review

Henry Darger’s tiny efficiency in Chicago is still papered by images of little girls being pretty, little girls being buggered, little girls being saved by giant sequin-winged beasts.

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