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Flow Chart

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4.25  ·  Rating Details  ·  198 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
"Reticent, shy, unfailingly modern, Ashbery is as unorthodox [as] any of the great twentieth-century creators: Breton, Stravinsky, Picasso," observed Jeremy Reed in Britain's Poetry Review. "We are privileged to be around at a time when he is writing." Flow Chart, a book-length poem that first appeared in 1991, might be Ashbery's greatest creation: a staggering and exubera
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Paperback, 224 pages
Published March 18th 1998 by The Noonday Press (first published 1991)
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Eddie Watkins
Oct 04, 2014 Eddie Watkins rated it really liked it
Of course it depends on your definition of poetry, but for me poetry is often the very lack of definition, though I tend to look for at least the appearance of definition… Anyway, we’re all looking for something to read, and Ashbery here gives us something to read, and it reads like slippery prose – Woolf of The Waves, de Chirico’s Hendomeros - which is to say it goes down easily but after a few draughts you wonder what you just took in. The point here, with Ashbery, is to just keep reading, don ...more
Katherine Tallent
Aug 15, 2016 Katherine Tallent rated it it was amazing
That was an experience I haven't had before. I actually felt my mind thinking, but not any thoughts. I just felt the 'thinkingness' of it.
Meg
Sep 17, 2007 Meg rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thesis
you don't have to read all of it but if you did you'd probably find your favorite part(s)
Jesse
Apr 25, 2009 Jesse rated it liked it
For the first few chapters I thought I'd found something that could legitimately be compared to the lyrical, almost mystical conveyance of personality found in Virginia Woolf's The Waves. But my appreciation--and connection--seemed to diminish with each passing chapter, if only because I found less and less to grab on to as the poem descended into itself (for over 200 pages!). Perhaps, in retrospect, my approach was wrong, that this is a work that shouldn't necessarily be approached as something ...more
Dean Kritikos
May 06, 2016 Dean Kritikos rated it really liked it
As always with Ashbery, this book was impossible to "understand." And thank goodness. Rather than bother with cohesiveness, he makes sure that reading is a pleasure of/in fits. Voices stray out from some non-existent center only to, on a dime, betray a half- or quarter-there unity.

Overall, what this book gets at is the absolute absurdity of the word "I." That, and the absolute beauty of (Ashbery's own) language.
Stephen
Jun 29, 2014 Stephen rated it it was ok
Totally incomprehensible as all Ashbery poetry, but, again, somehow and for some reason I think it was good that I read it. I laughed out loud at certain parts of absurdist humor.
Jordan
Aug 18, 2014 Jordan rated it it was amazing
Our greatest living poet writes down a dream solid enough to hold in your hands
secondwomn
Oct 06, 2008 secondwomn rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2008, poetry
an inventive associative meditative long poem. i adore the rhythmic and syllabic playfulness. i like especially ashbery's juxtapositions of erudition and colloquialism. i like his glacier references. i like the chunk of sestina-influenced verse with the sunflowers and the dead. definitely a poem i'll have to reread several times over, and one that i'm sure i'll love more every time.
Amanda
May 01, 2015 Amanda rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
finished my first reading but intend to reread. in this long poem, Ashbery combines the mundane with the astonishing. his lines don't go together & yet they do in a type of coherence that transcends surface meaning in a delightful way. not to dismiss the meaningfulness of this work. a poem like this gives me permission to play.
Zoe
Mar 30, 2009 Zoe marked it as to-read
Saw someone with this book at Stumptown Coffee. Skimmed through it and felt instantly inspired. Apparently it's quite hard to find?
C. Carrier
Sep 20, 2008 C. Carrier rated it really liked it
The double sestina at end of the book is so worth waiting for and is as a glowing orb that appears from out of darkness.
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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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“So one can lose a good idea
by not writing it down, yet by losing it one can have it: it nourishes other asides
it knows nothing of, would not recognize itself in, yet when the negotiations
are terminated, speaks in the acts of that progenitor, and does
recognize itself, is grateful for not having done so earlier.”
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