Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mary Ruefle on John Ashbery's Three Poems

I remember my first Ashbery reading, also in college. Ashbery was reading from his new book, Three Poems, and he said that it was a lot like watching TV—you could open the book anywhere and begin reading, and flip around the book as much as you wanted to. I remember hating him for saying this. I remember the word sacrilege came to mind. I remember not liking that reading.

I remember, two years later, reading Three Poems on a grassy slope while across the road three men put a new roof on an old house, and I was in love with one of them. I could watch the men working as I read. I remember that everything I was reading was everything that was happening across the way—I would read a little, then look up, read a little, then look up, and I was blown apart by the feeling this little book was about my life at that moment, exactly as I was living it. I remember loving the book, and that it was one of the memorable reading experiences of my life. - Mary Ruefle

1 comment:

  1. I felt the same connection when I read 19 Varieties of Gazelle by Naomi Shihab Nye, though I have never been to Palestine. Her intricate connection to the daily life of people struggling in their own situations, struck a chord. It is, after all, the commonality of man that lets us understand and feel the suffering of others.

    She has a beautiful way of sketching portraits of individuals and individual situations. She takes the reader along in her reminiscences. These poems serve to draw people together at a time when media and social propaganda promote the opposite.