Cover image for Your name here : poems
Your name here : poems
Ashbery, John, 1927-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, [2000]

Physical Description:
x, 127 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3501.S475 Y68 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



In his twentieth collection of poetry, John Ashbery continues to examine the themes that have preoccupied him of late: age and its inevitable losses, memories of childhood, the transforming magic of dreams in daily living. "Why do I tell you these things? You are not even here," he asks in the opening poem, seemingly addressed to an absent friend. Fortunately, he finds plenty of reasons to "tell things," chief among them the pleasure of attempting to offer the reader "a completely new set of objects," in Wallace Stevens's phrase. Through a blizzard of conflicting styles and tones of voice, the poems take shape as though through an iridescent shower of snow in a shaken paperweight.Your Name Here (a title suggested by bullfight posters hawked to tourists in Spain, with a blank space so they can fill in their own name as terero) offers souvenirs to the reader, inviting him or her to "personalize" the poems with their own associations and memories.After his take on kids' adventure stories in his Girls on the Run (FSG, 1999), Ashbery returns to and renews his own masterful voice in this sad, funny, and beautiful book.

Author Notes

John Ashbery was born on July 28, 1927 in Rochester, New York. He received a bachelor's degree from Harvard University and a master's degree in English from Columbia University. After graduating, he wrote advertising copy for Oxford University Press and McGraw-Hill.

In 1955, he won the Yale Younger Poets prize for his first collection, Some Trees. While on a Fulbright scholarship to Paris, he began writing art criticism and editing small journals. After about a decade in France, he returned to New York, where he became executive editor of ARTnews and continued to work as an arts journalist. After ARTnews was sold in 1972, he taught and wrote art criticism.

He wrote several collections of poetry including Houseboat Days, Flow Chart, And the Stars Were Shining, and Turandot and Other Poems. He received a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, and a National Book Critics Circle Award in 1976 for Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. He also received the Antonio Feltrinelli International Prize for Poetry in 1992, the Ambassador Book Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008, and the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in 2011. In 1993, the French government made him a Chevalier de L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He also translated the poems of Pierre Martory. He died on September 3, 2017 at the age of 90.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Having committed the torqued fantasies aroused by contemplation of the mysterious work of outsider artist Henry Darger to paper in Girls on the Run (1999), the prolific Ashbery returns to his own merry-go-round imaginative world in his twentieth poetry collection. In glissading lines of surreal imagery, bits of dialogue, and dreamlike scenarios rife with synesthetic metaphor, he writes in a persona that is sometimes bossy, sometimes wistful, often raving and devil-may-care, then tender, ribald, or sly. His poetic stand-ins sidle up and buttonhole the reader, talking rapidly about candy, storms, croquet, cocktails, a glacier, sex, landscapes, and animals. His titles hint at his rambunctious inventiveness: "Frogs and Gospels," "Full Tilt," "Here We Go Looby," "Amnesia Goes to the Ball," "Lemurs and Pharisees," "A Star Belched." As wild and arbitrary as these pell-mell performances feel, they are tightly constructed, rhythmic, and sinuous, and underlying their sparkle are musings on memory, time, loss, angst, and desire. Such seemingly free-associative work can be taxing; it can feel indulgent, and so Ashbery's giddy poems will please some readers and fatigue others. Donna Seaman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Ashbery may be America's most influential living poet, and its most widely admired. Traditional critics like Harold Bloom admire his lyrical flourishes of prophecy and regret; experimentalists, quite as justly, praise his verbal outlandishness and tonal intricacy, his comic moments and slippery transitions. Both will find much to like in this 20th collection, which (like much of his '90s poetry) combines flamboyant, temporary poses with serious explorations of mortality and nostalgia: "If only I could get the tears out of my eyes it would be raining now," one page concludes: "I must try the new, fluid approach." Typically, a new Ashbery poem will zip and twist from context to context, person to person, from silly to sad to hopeful and back again. More than ever, Ashbery plays games with his readers√Ąthough the games frequently get called off midplay: "Not You Again" begins "Thought I'd write you this poem. Yes,/ I know you don't need it.... Just want to kind of get it off my chest/ and drop it in the peanut dust." Readers bowled over by some parts of this volume may find Ashbery's lesser poems too much alike, their whimsical stanzas not quite adding up. But the best poems here are one of a kind: the hilarious (and atypically coherent) "Memories of Imperialism," for example, which imagines that Admiral Dewey (of Philippines fame) invented the Dewey decimal system. Among the jokes, mix-ups and quick costume changes, two constants are campy slang and a deep sense of loss: "If all you want is kittens, come back later... `What if I said I want no kittens,/ just a big fat you?'" Some will see, in the book's many versions of "you," Ashbery's longtime partner Pierre Martory, who died in 1998, and to whom he dedicates the volume. A line of serious elegies and laments, emerging gradually and understatedly, leads at last to the astonishing, brief "Strange Cinema," also dedicated to Martory. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Ashbery is and has long been an astonishing poet. Several of his poems, most notably "Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror" and "The Double Dream of Spring," are touchstones of modern poetry; what astonishes now, as much as anything, is his great fertility as well as high quality. He has always been strongly influenced Wallace StevensDhis model for freedom from explicit meaningDand here Ashbery submits to Stevens's law that poetry "must give delight." This is one of his most pleasing collections in many years. Ashbery has mastered a tone at once melancholic and comedic, as in "What Is Written": "Dark spool,/ moving oceanward nowDwhat other fate could have been yours?/ You could have lived in a drawer/ for many years, imprisoned, a ward of the state. Now you are free/ to call the shots pretty much as they come./ Poor, bald thing." Not every reader grasps Ashbery's mixture of banal tone and language with surreal images and juxtapositions, but Ashbery is a great poet, and there are many delights in this new collection. Highly recommended.DGraham Christian, formerly with Andover-Harvard Theological Lib., Cambridge, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.