Planisphere

Michael Robbins writes:

It’s been two years since the last one, so it must be time for a new book of poems by John Ashbery. Like the old James Bond films, Ashbery’s late instalments arrive punctually, and you buy your ticket knowing what to expect: a suave cartoon with ridiculous gadgets, clever one-liners and last-minute escapes. ‘So Long, Santa’, the penultimate poem in Ashbery’s previous collection, A Worldly Country (2007), worried that ‘it will come round again/and we won’t be ready.’ Planisphere begins with the lines: ‘Is it possible that spring could be/once more approaching?’ Forever bowled over by the same old thing, finding difference in repetition, Ashbery is the Duracell bunny of American poetry.

(LRB 9 September 2010)

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