David Herd

David Herd’s collections of poetry include All Just (Carcanet, 2012) and Outwith (Bookthug, 2012). His work has appeared in various international journals, including Blackbox Manifold, Like Starlings, Mascara, nY and Otoliths and he has given readings in Australia, Belgium Canada, France and the UK. He is the author of two critical works, John Ashbery and American Poetry and Enthusiast! Essays on Modern American Literature and his essays and reviews have been widely published in journals, magazines and newspapers. His recent writings on poetry and politics have appeared in PN Review, Parallax, Almost Island and The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary British and Irish Poetry.

John Ashbery’s Humane Abstractions

In the context of John Ashbery’s long career it is possible to a claim a particular significance for that book. Published in 1970, it was the first volume he wrote after re-settling in the United States in 1965, having lived in Paris for the best part of a decade. It was also the book in which he arrived at a kind of poem – ‘Soonest Mended’ is an example, but so are several others, ‘Evening in the Country’, say, or ‘The Bungalows’ – that established a way of configuring voice, narrative trajectory, human relations and cultural reference that would become recognisable as characteristically Ashberyan.

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i. Let’s go then Because if we don’t nobody will – I had that this thought for the morning, We could concentrate our energies on the movement through Weigh down on the action Work out where the word becomes feeling …

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