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What are the basic themes in the poetry of John Ashbery?  

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safeena | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 11, 2009 at 4:44 PM via web

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What are the basic themes in the poetry of John Ashbery?

 

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danylyshen | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted May 12, 2009 at 10:13 PM (Answer #1)

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John Ashbery's poetry is mainly about the play and process of the mind interacting with the world. This is his largest theme, arguably as demonstrated in masterpieces such as "The System" and "Flow Chart." In the system we see Ashbery's mind reach out and try and interpret life, love, perspective, and reality. This long poem is an enigma and offer many a literary theorist with ripe matter for mining. It is more of an expression of the mind in action as it reaches out, embraces, then contemplates anything that is "outside" of the mind. Ashbery is also concerned with the process of artistic creation and appreciation. "Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror" is one such a poem, amongst others. Since he is an art critic amongst other roles, he often writes about painting and the act of inspiration and creation. His themes are numerous since the mind perceiving subjects is numerous. Other themes include: love, loss, alienation, the everyday, painting, art, emotions, homoeroticism, emotions, etc.

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