Your Name Here by John Ashbery

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In his twentieth collection of poetry, John Ashbery continues to examine the themes that have preoccupied him of late: age and its inevitable losses, memories of childhood, the transforming magic of dreams in daily living. "Why do I tell you these things? You are not even here," he asks in the opening poem, seemingly addressed to an absent friend. Fortunately, he finds plenty of reasons to "tell things," chief among them the pleasure of attempting to offer the reader "a completely new set of objects," in Wallace Stevens's phrase. Through a blizzard of conflicting styles and tones of voice, the poems take shape as though through an iridescent shower of snow in a shaken paperweight.

Your Name Here (a title suggested by bullfight posters hawked to tourists in Spain, with a blank space so they can fill in their own name as terero) offers souvenirs to the reader, inviting him or her to "personalize" the poems with their own associations and memories.

After his take on kids' adventure stories in his Girls on the Run (FSG, 1999), Ashbery returns to and renews his own masterful voice in this sad, funny, and beautiful book.


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. He also writes under the pseudonym Jonas Berry.
Published October 1, 2000 by Farrar Straus Giroux. 144 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Your Name Here

The New York Times

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KAREN ROSENBERG A version of this review appeared in print on April 1, 2011, on page C 31 of the New York edition with the headline: Jonathan Monk.

Mar 31 2011 | Read Full Review of Your Name Here

Publishers Weekly

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Just want to kind of get it off my chest/ and drop it in the peanut dust."" Readers bowled over by some parts of this volume may find Ashbery's lesser poems too much alike, their whimsical stanzas not quite adding up.

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