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Book of the week — Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror

vase with flowers
Tomorrow is easy, but today is uncharted,
Desolate, reluctant as any landscape
To yield what are laws of perspective
After all only to the painter’s deep
Mistrust, a weak instrument though
Necessary. Of course some things
Are possible, it knows, but it doesn’t know
Which ones. Some day we will try
To do as many things as are possible
And perhaps we shall succeed at a handful
Of them, but this will not have anything
To do with what is promised today, our
Landscape sweeping out from us to disappear
On the horizon. Today enough of a cover burnishes
To keep the supposition of promises together
In one piece of surface, letting one ramble
Back home from them so that these
Even stronger possibilities can remain
Whole without being tested.

Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror
John Ashbery (1927-2017)
San Francisco: Arion Press, 1984
Z232.5 A7 A84 1984 ARC

Portfolio of forty leaves. The poem is handset in Cochin in lines radiating from a center indicating the page number. The pages must be turned to be read. Leaves include signed original prints by Richard Avedon, Elaine de Kooning, Willem de Kooning, Jim Dine, Jane Freilicher, Alex Katz, R.B. Kitaj, and Larry Rivers. Images created with various processes, including lithography, etching, and woodcut. Included is a foreword to the poem by the poet and signed by him, an essay on the poem by Helen Vendler printed as liner notes on the jacket of a record album of the poet reading the poem recorded in 1975, and a full-scale reproduction of the sixteenth-century painting by Parmigianino with the same title which inspired the poem. Paper made in rounds at Twinrocker Mills in Indiana. Housed in stainless steel canister with a convex mirror on the lid. Edition of 150 copies for sale, plus 25 copies hors de commerce.

portrait of John Ashbery

Portrait of John Ashbery at typewriter

lines of poem in round

Richard Avedon portrait of John Ashberycanister, rounds, portrait

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