It is unfortunately not downloadable, so you have to stream it. It’s ten minutes from 35 – 45.

He talks about how he got sentenced to poetry (as Leonard Cohen said ‘Poetry is not a choice it’s a verdict.’),

about appreciating ‘difficult’ poetry through its sound. And half-jokingly quoting Oscar Wilde here, ‘”take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves.” Ashbery, ‘Take care of the sound and the sense will take care of itself.’

about meeting his future companions Kenneth Koch and Frank O’Hara; about the origin of the term New York School;

about not having been Poet Laureate, ‘It would’ve been a lot of work’;

I like listening to what people say on the street, where you overhear some remarkable things, i’ve never had a distinct sense of what it’s like for me to be talking that why I guess my poems get overtaken by other people talking with and at each other … I likew the vagaries and excess of American speech as well as its occasional precision. There is something very touching for me the way we try to communicate important things to each other, usually fail and come back to the original subject matter, maybe..’

about being published / canonized by the Library of America, ‘I’ll just work from within to reform the establishment.’

One thought on “John Ashbery on BBCs The Verb

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