Three Poems

Three Poems Review

A provocative, challenging masterpiece by John Ashbery that set a new standard for the modern prose poem

“The pathos and liveliness of ordinary human communication is poetry to me,” John Ashbery has said of this controversial work, a collection of three long prose poems originally published in 1972, adding, “Three Poems tries to stay close to the way we talk and think without expecting what we say to be recorded or remembered.”

The effect of these prose poems is at once deeply familiar and startlingly new, something like encountering a collage made of lines clipped from every page of a beloved book—or, as Ashbery has also said of this work, like flipping through television channels and hearing an unwritten, unscriptable story told through unexpected combinations of voices, settings, and scenes.

In Three Poems, Ashbery reframes prose poetry as an experience that invites the reader in through an infinite multitude of doorways, and reveals a common language made uncommonly real.

Title:Three Poems
Edition Language:English

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    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • Mitch

    My favorite Ashbery book. Definitely the most difficult one as well. The poem titled, I think, "New Spirit" is a continuous barrage of language, where meanings peel off and recombine with other meanin...

  • Ben

    These poems are dense. They appear in paragraph form and wax more philosophically than most poetry of his that I have read up to this point. That being said, I particularly enjoyed the first two poems...

  • Mary

    So, so beautiful......

  • Carol Peters

    remarkablea difficult readpoetry/philosophy"the narrowing-down feeling conflicts with the feeling of life’s coming to a point, not a climax but a point. At that point one must, yes, be selective, bu...

  • David Kellogg

    I've read this book twice before, years and years ago, but reread it recently. This is such a strong book, exactly the kind of thing that some people hate about John Ashbery, but really an amazing pie...

  • Eric Phetteplace

    Just reread this and it amazed me. Three really long poems written primarily in prose paragraphs that have a strange, spacey and warped analytical style to them. Almost like trying to write a history ...

  • Kelly

    I really enjoyed the structure of this book and the way that Ashbery was able to sustain such lengthy pieces that felt complete. However, I found all three pieces a bit depressing. I didn't feel uplif...

  • Cory

    I don't know that I understand this book at all, but I feel like it's rerouting my brain in a positive way. I don't think it's something to be deciphered, necessarily, but rather simply absorbed. So I...

  • Michael

    Halfway through this collection... I'm tagging Three Poems as "read," but in all honesty I can't muster the enthusiasm/motivation/courage/attention/energy to keep reading. I'll try again in another do...

  • Gary McDowell

    This is a trippy read. Takes some patience. But it's fucking brilliant... I think....