Selected Prose

John Ashbery
Edited by Eugene Richie
Fifty years of writing on literature, film, and art by one of the most influential poets and critics of our time


Selected Prose contains a broad selection of texts by internationally acclaimed poet and critic John Ashbery. This third collection of Ashbery's critical writings dramatically expands the terrain covered by the first two, Reported Sightings: Art Chronicles 1957-1987 and Other Traditions (first presented as the Norton Lectures at Harvard in 1989-90). These essays on writers, artists, filmmakers, and the life of a poet provide insight into Ashbery's evolution as one of the major poets in English. Ashbery's unique sensibility has had a profound impact on the literature and arts of our time, and his influence is certain to be felt for decades to come. Editor Eugene Richie's introduction explores the poetic and cultural context of fifty years' worth of prose by one of America's finest poets.

John Ashbery is the author of twenty books of poetry and is the recipient of three lifetime achievement awards. He is Charles P. Stevenson, Jr. Professor of Languages and Literature at Bard College.

Eugene Richie is Director of Writing at Pace University, where he also teaches writing and literature.

Praise / Awards

  • "This is a marvelous book by one of our greatest poets. Reading John Ashbery's Selected Prose is like listening to a brilliant talker who not only keeps us entertained and laughing, but who also has wise things to say about all sorts of interesting subjects."
    —Charles Simic

  • "At last! Many of the fugitive pieces collected in this volume—on Gertude Stein, on Frank O'Hara, on Marianne Moore or Adrienne Rich—published as many of them were in out-of-the way places, have already become collectors' items, providing fascinating—and often startling—assessments of their subjects as well as new insight into Ashbery himself. Now here they are between two covers, along with many hitherto unknown pieces on subjects ranging from Michel Butor to Mary Butts, Jane Freilicher to Mark Ford. For anyone who cares about the contemporary poetry/art scene, this is an indispensable collection."
    —Marjorie Perloff, Stanford University

  • ". . . Ashbery has shown a number of poets . . . how to confront the often twisted countours of our living world with a startling voice, rhythm, or realignment even, yet without mauling any of our messy moorings. Reading his Selected Prose is, from what I can tell, just as edifying an experience as sitting in one of Ashbery's poetry workshops or tackling his Selected Poems. Maybe more so, actually, because in it you encounter not only the work of poets, big and small, who have influenced Ashbery's own poetry but also the aesthetic interests, along with the literary and cinematic pleasures, that have animated his other life as a critic."
    —Daniel Morris, Brooklyn Rail

  • "The new volume of Selected Prose . . . is [Ashbery's] most sheerly entertaining book. You can't call it Ashbery Lite, because it is full of the startling insights that we have come to expect of him, and the essays are about Michel Butor and Antonin Artaud, not Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise. . . . It is a literary event worth celebrating."
    East Hampton Star

  • ". . . Selected Prose provides nonpedantic and precisely relevant commentary on how many ways there are for words to belong in a poem—or not belong. And because Ashbery's own poetry is at least as daunting as any he dissects, watching him prod the insides of other people's work reveals a lot about the gimmicks at the core of his own. By the end of the book, Ashbery has laid out not only a course in contemporary poetics but a portrait of the artist teaching himself to become a thoroughly Modernist poet--in small bites, easy to savor, easy to digest."
    —Diane Middlebrook, Los Angeles Times Book Review

  • "The publication of Ashbery's Selected Prose—reviews, essays and occasional pieces written over the last 50 years—is a reminder that from the beginning he set out to be different and not to be easily understood."
    —Charles McGrath, New York Times Book Review

  • "This volume forms a triptych with Other Traditions and Reported Sightings in gathering his prose; one reads as much for the easy delight of Ashbery's mind-motion as the education in 20th-century aesthetic tradition, with a slant toward the French and avant-garde. . . ."
    —Joshua Clover, Village Voice

Look Inside

Copyright © 2004, John Ashbery. All rights reserved.

News, Reviews, Interviews

Read: Selected Prose cited in John Ashberry obituary in The Guardian Link | 9/4/2017

Product Details

  • 5 3/8 x 8.
  • 336pp.
  • 2.
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Sales Restrictions

Our edition is unavailable in Anguilla, Antigua And Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Bermuda, Bhutan, Botswana, British Indian Ocean Territory, Brunei Darussalam, Burma, Cayman Islands, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominica, Egypt, England, Falkland Islands (Malvinas), Fiji, Finland, France, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Gibraltar, Greece, Grenada, Guyana, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Lesotho, Luxembourg, Malawi, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Montserrat, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn, Portugal, Saint Kitts And Nevis, Saint Vincent And The Grenadines, Scotland, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, St. Helena, St. Lucia, Sudan, Swaziland, Sweden, Tanzania, Tonga, Turks And Caicos Islands, Uganda, United Kingdom, Vanuatu, Wales, Western Samoa, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe


  • Hardcover
  • 2004
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  • 2005
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