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From the publisher
After his spectacular early career, in which he became one of the best-loved and most controversial poets of his time, and his radical and productive middle years, John Ashbery continued effortlessly finding new directions in the 1990s and into the twenty-first century, writing playfully, inventively. His language is exquisitely attuned to mundane reality, transforming it. Here in a single, substantial, authoritative, and helpfully annotated volume are seven complete books from this crucial period, starting with Flow Chart (1991), a tour de force that shows Ashbery's mastery of `the entire orchestral potential of the English language,' as Helen Vendler put it. It complements Ashbery's earlier Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, offering a vision of the collective `dream of everyday life that was our / beginning, and where we still live, out in the open, under clouds stacked up in a holding pattern / like pictures in a nineteenth-century museum.' The poems range across Ashbery's varied interests and obsessions - opera, film noir, French poetry, the visual arts. Everywhere is his boundless inventiveness, his pitch-perfect ear for American speech, his exuberant erudition. The book ends with twenty-six uncollected poems, among them `Hoboken', a collage that pillages Roget's Thesaurus, and much else.