Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror: Poems (Penguin Poets) [John Ashbery] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. John Ashbery’s most renowned. Written in a style often described as verbal expressionism, “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror” is the title poem in the collection for which John Ashbery won a. John Ashberry won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. Ashberry.

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John Ashbery, more than any other contemporary, is the poet of the momentary, the transitory. This preoccupation animates selr-portrait he writes, and what he writes is some of the best poetry of our day. There is no one who writes quite like Ashbery, and the poetic territory he inhabits is very much his own.

Ashberry reaffirms the poetic powers that have made him such an outstanding figure in contemporary literature.

This new book continues his astonishing explorations of places where no one has ever been. Would you like to tell us about a lower price?

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Self-portrait in a Convex Mirror – Wikipedia

Customers who bought this item also bought. Page 1 of 1 Start over Page 1 of 1. Diving into the Wreck: Selected Poems Penguin Poets. Review “No one now writing poetry in the English language is likelier than Ashbery to survive the severe judgments of time. Penguin Books January 1, Language: I’d like to read this book on Kindle Don’t have a Kindle?

Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review. Read reviews that mention title poem poems poetry ashbbery ashberry collection poet encountered important meaning art confusion john poets pulitzer stick. Showing of 13 reviews.

Self-Portrait In A Convex Mirror – Poem by John Ashbery

Top Reviews Most recent Top Reviews. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. If there’s a Best Ashbery Book, this is it. If you assume there is no best Ashbery book, you might ashbedy this irritating, but it’s there, anyway.

And this is, of course, just my opinion. His career has been long and productive. He remains to this day very visible, frequently publishing his poems in the New Yorker. It was, in fact, within the pages of the New Yorker that I first encountered Ashbery in my youth. I hated his work immediately. In fact, it took years for me to discover the incredible beauty and intellectual stimulation within Ashbery’s poetry. Over the miror I have come to appreciate Ashbery’s more recent, or later work most of all.

Although I appreciate the greater simplicity of his earlier work, and the great, convoluted anguish of his middle work, it is the vision of his later work that engages me most.


Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror belongs primarily to his middle period. It, of course, famously won many awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. I own this edition of the work and it has held up well with multiple readings, both the actual paperback, and the text.

When I initially read this volume I found it strangely troubling and thought-provoking. I felt almost physically anguished as I read it over and over again. When I first encountered it I surrendered nearly a complete month to repeatedly devouring Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. However, in the end I found that it is still not my favorite of his works. Also, I must confess that I found the short poems in the volume much more engaging than the long, title poem.

As a poet, myself, for years I have found endless inspiration within Ashbery’s writing as well as the writing of many mirrro, including the particularly noteworthy Charles Simic. I think for those first approaching Ashbery’s work, this is probably the best place to start.

I believe you will find that you either love or hate his work. If you discover that you love it, miirror on to other works such as The Mooring of Starting Out – a 1 volume edition of his first 4 volumes of poetry, or Where Shall I Wander – one of his latest works If you’ve already read other works by Ashbery, but have not read this work, you need to get yourself a copy and get to it. I am convinced that it would be a mistake to overlook this very important and engaging work.

Some of the best poetry I’ve ever read. Great with the exception of the cover of the book. It was different than self-lortrait posted photo and I asybery with this seller specifically for the posted cover. Integrity of the book is intact and as described.

The book that I received has a different cover from the posted picture. These poems were disjointed ij lacked any kind of cadence or rythem. I just couldn’t stick with it. None of the poems grabbed me. One person found this helpful. Robin Friedman Top Contributor: The American poet John Ashbery’s b. The book, especially the lengthy concluding poem for which it is named, solidified Ashbery’s reputation as a major American poet and remains his most widely-read work.

The book consists of 35 poems, ahbery the title poem. Swlf-portrait am in the midst of reading the Library of America’s collection of Ashbery’s poems from and wanted to pause to try to take stock through this important collection. Ashbery’s poetry and this volume resist paraphrase. Each poem includes lines and figures which are indivually striking and often beautiful; but the poems cannot be read discursively.

The diction shifts markedly in the poems from the solemn to the profane.

Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror

There are sudden shifts in person and in tenses. Frequently, mifror or sections are clear enough, but a poem as a whole will appear opaque. There is a sense in Ashbery’s work of cutting through the tendency to rationalize and to focus on the joy of experience in its diversity.


The concreteness and detail of the poem show a love of things in their variety and keen emotional responses. The poems frequently have the sense of an interior monologue or a discussion among friends. For all their cinvex, the poems have a certain lightness of touch. The poetry is urbane and shows great knowledge of art, music, literature, movies, and popular culture. And with reading, some sense of what Ashbery is about becommes clear.

Yet the difficulties remain. The title poem, Ashbery’s masterpiece, is, on one level accessible to read. It moves in a narrative reflection, and can be followed, up to a comvex. This is still a difficult poem which will bear close and repeated readings. The title poem is based on a painting of of the self-poryrait name by Parmigianino that now is in the Kunsthistoriche Museum, Vienna.

Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror |

The painting shows a reflection of the artist on a convex mirror. It is marked by a seemingly distorted and large right hand, and the somewhat feminine yet intense face of the artist staring at the viewer.

In his poem, Ashbery addresses the artist, discusses and questions him about his painting, and quotes commenters iohn the painting contemporary and modern. He describes the work and his reaction to it, e. They seek and cannot find the meaning of the music. As the poem progresses, it discusses tradition and interpretation and perspectivism in understanding reality.

The artist’s vision is brought forward as Ashbery meditates on modern life and its cacophony. The poem becomes its own reflection of Ashbery’s understanding of the creative endeavor.

The short poems in this volume are overshadowed by the Self-Portrait. These poems tend to be even more elliptical than this major poem of the volume. In my reading, Ashbwry tried to identify the works that I could respond to while passing mirrror, for the present, others that seemed to me obscure.

This might be a good way for other readers to approach the book. Ashbery begins with the words “I tried each thing, only some were immortal and free” which in the context of the poem seems to speak of the renewal of the creative endeavor.

The “Poem in Three Parts” begins with a startling phrase “Once I let a guy blow me” but proceeds to an exploration of how one responds to experience: This book is difficult, modern poetry that may not appeal to all readers. The poems in this book are evocative and I think a sense of them can be got from sympathetic reading. This book deserves its reputation as a major work of American literature.