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Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror: Poems (Penguin Poets) Paperback – January 1, 1990
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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 others, including the particularly noteworthy Charles Simic). I think for those first approaching Ashbery's work, this is probably the best place to start.Read more ›
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. There are sudden shifts in person and in tenses. Frequently, lines 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 difficulty, 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.
"Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror" was a watershed book for Ashbery because it is somewhat more accessible than his earlier avant-garde books. Yet the difficulties remain.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The book that I received has a different cover from the posted picture.Published 21 months ago by Ruoyun Jiang
This collection of poetry is really just a pseudo-intellectual attempt to capitalize on the confusion and the disorientation of the post-modern era. Read morePublished on January 19, 2009 by Seller No. 90
A confounding, self-indulgent collection by America's master of Poetica Obscura.
As a teacher of literature and a poetry lover since childhood, I've read thousands upon... Read more
This collection of poems, especially the title poem, is jarring and bewildering in its swiftness and complexity, and in the crossed-paths of struggle, you will encounter... Read morePublished on September 3, 1999