This review deals with new books on Frank O'Hara and John Ashbery, two poets who have been critiqued for inaccessibility for very different reasons: Frank O'Hara: The Poetics of Coterie by Lytle Shaw and Ashbery's Forms of Attention by Andrew DuBois. Shaw, in addition to challenging the pejorative notion of O'Hara as a coterie poet, offers an exemplary strategy for interpreting literary coteries of any era. Additionally, Shaw demonstrates how O'Hara's work is more politically oriented than it is generally given credit for being by tracing how the work enacts a radical and personalized restructuring of the context within which we normally associate public figures. DuBois, on the other hand, tackles Ashbery's "fabled 'difficulty'" (xi), breaking his central theme of attention into four categories that roughly correspond to stages in Ashbery's career: his early development, his use of prose, his stream of consciousness writing, and the relation between senility and his later work.


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pp. 161-167
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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