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Alter Egos - I Am Done Watching This

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Monday, October 23, 2006

Dead Beat and John Ashbery Discuss Fame

Ashbery of course decided that if Mr O'H was going to have his say on Dead Beat that Mr. A could not be left out.

"Hey Fame," I say, "how's the writing going?"

"What's with the Fame, Dead Beat?"

"Well you're a pretty famous guy, right?"

"I just write poetry that most people don't understand."

"What other kind would we want to write?"

"Listen Dead Beat, until I was about forty very few people knew my poetry. Most people think that from my first book on I was a success, that I instantly became a well-known poet. In fact, nothing happened with the first three books and I concluded that nobody was ever going to read this stuff. If I wanted to go on writing I’d write for myself or just stop, which I seriously considered at various points."

"For real?"

"Yeah. And then I thought it’d be a shame to give this up since I really enjoy doing it, so I’ll just continue. And then suddenly I started getting more famous, if that’s the word."

"That's the word Mr. A. Anyway tell me about the New York School of Poetry?"

"Well, it didn’t really come into existence until after the fact. I was here with a group of poets who were friends, and we had some things in common: I think basically what unites our poetry is the experimental approach, but the poetry was different in the case of Koch, O’Hara, Schuyler and me. We weren’t called the New York School of poets until after I had gone to live in France and was a bit out of touch with America anyway. When I left in 1955 to go to Paris as a Fulbright Student and ended up staying there more or less for ten years all of us were completely unknown here. We didn’t think of ourselves as a school. I still don’t."

"But the New York School of Poetry is famous right?"

"If that's the word?"

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