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Girls on the Run

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3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  255 ratings  ·  19 reviews
A book-length poem that is at once tragic and hilarious.

Girls on the Run 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;
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Paperback, 96 pages
Published April 15th 2000 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1999)
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Community Reviews

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Ben Loory
Feb 26, 2009 Ben Loory rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Ben by: jason vincz
i don't read a lot of modern poetry, and this is why: it confuses me. i don't know what's happening. images rush by, some of them feel like something, others don't, nothing seems to really add up to anything, i get the feeling i could chop out half the lines and nothing would change, or i could add in a bunch of other lines, maybe lines from elsewhere in the poem, and nothing would change, or i could read the poem backwards, or upside down, etc...

that being said, there is a kind of delightful cr...more
Nate Slawson
way fantastic & way underrated. dig.
Jason
I didn't like this when it came out, but after seeing "In the Realms of the Unreal,"
I reread it and now it all makes...sense? The Ashberyan kind of sense, "toying
with anagrams while the real message is being written in the stars."

"Now, though,
when it came time to vote for who the deed was done
by,the others mattered, too...

"adults who have turned the steep corner into childhood...

"no two people can take love into their own hands..."

"Some had come unconvinced about the importance
of this daydrea...more
Fan Wu
the voice of the manchild filtered through the mind of an evasive genius
Renée
I admire Ashbery, even if I don't always understand him. *Girls on the Run* is one book length poem in sections, a form I've never tried and that is ambitious. The poem unfolds almost as if it was a series of dreams, the the same kind of shape-shifting emotional landscape of dreamworlds. The poem also mimics the kind of style and language of a child's storybook, and it cascades through each section in a fit of wild inventiveness.

Reading this poem, as many Ashbery poems are prone to do, make me w...more
Jehan
"They danced, and became meaningful to each other. It was cosmic time, tasting of grit. If this is a mutual admiration society, why not?"

"It was like everywhere. It was just average."

I wanted more of this, and in this way the poem is lacking something great. It is a little all over the place, and does not seem to accentuate the loveliness of Darger's work. There is not much connection at all.
E
Sep 28, 2008 E rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
This epic poem is based on a series of paintings by Henry Darger. While the paintings range from bizarre to disturbing, the poem proves that they were endlessly inspiring. The poem in turn has influenced my own writing tremendously - "green like an elephant's" because he's either an Expressionist or Babar's father. Isn't that guy running for president?
Dawn
It aint the best Ashbery I've read. Something about it is itchy and something else is whimsical, but joyless in its whimsy which is difficult and not pleasing and I'm trying to decide if that's the way it's supposed to be or if the whole thing's a distance from the center, so to read it is superficial.
Eddie Watkins
Ashbery at his most frivolous?

It reminds me of DeKooning's late (Alzheimer?) paintings, which I love. There's a similar lack of subject matter (of course the poem has a subject, with characters even, but still it's more a vehicle for Ashbery's lack of subject(!)), but lightness of colorful touch.
Colin
Another book I'm reading for my Film Studies course. Although I very much enjoyed Henry Darger's art and life story, it is not easy to see the connections between Ashberry's poem and Darger - with the exception of little isolated bits and pieces ...
Chris
This is probably my favorite Ashbery; Darger's art meshes very well with Ashbery's poetics, and it makes the structures that Ashbery is playing within and against more apparent. It's surprisingly fun and even, at times, silly for Ashbery.
Larissa
One of Ashbery's seminal books centering around the themes of childhood and outsider art. As always, Ashbery is inventive with his language and his use of strong visual imagery.
Laura Leigh
It was just too much. Nothing came together. When I read poetry, I expect something larger, but this just left me muddled
Husayn
at times difficult to follow, but really great use of language
Annie
Jul 11, 2008 Annie added it
it was a gift from serena
i read it and think of her
Bethany
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Steven Sparks
John, you make my period rounder...
Rachel
Sep 23, 2010 Rachel added it
Well that's over now.
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John Ashbery was born in Rochester, New York, in 1927. He earned degrees from Harvard and Columbia, and he traveled as a Fulbright Scholar to France in 1955. Best known as a poet, he has published more than twenty collections, most recently A Worldly Country (Ecco, 2007). His Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (Viking, 1975) won the three major American prizes: the Pulitzer, the National Book Award,...more
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