Thursday, May 5, 2016

John Ashbery on “it”

From an interview in The Brooklyn Rail :

I’m sort of notorious for my use of the pronoun “it” without explaining what it means, which somehow never seemed a problem to me. We all sort of feel the presence of “it” without necessarily knowing what we’re thinking about. It is an important force just for that reason, it’s there and we don’t know what it is, and that is natural. So I don’t apologize for that, though I’ve been expected to on many occasions.
I think right away of the it s in Ashbery’s “What Is Poetry”: “Now they / Will have to believe it // As we believed it.” And “It might give us — what? — some flowers soon?”

Related reading
All OCA John Asbery posts (Pinboard)

comments: 2

johannes said...

It is what it is.

It's a pity that this is (now) regarded as a cliché - but maybe that doesn't matter?

Michael Leddy said...

I think Ashbery (or another poet) could repurpose that cliché into something mysterious. Maybe there’s already a poem in which he’s done so. :)