Wednesday, February 02, 2011
In October of 1989, John Ashbery went to St. John's the Divine Cathedral in New York to be part of the induction of Wallace Stevens at the Poets' Corner. There was a vespers service and Ashbery read six sections of Stevens's "An Ordinary Evening in New Haven." Imagine that--that poem read at a vespers service! Anyway, I certainly don't know of another recording of Ashbery performing Stevens. Stevens was a fairly bad reader of his own poems. Ashbery is deemed by many to be an indifferent reader of his poems. (I don't agree, but understand the point.) But here, reading Stevens, Ashbery is marvelous. Here is a 7-minute recording of sections 3, 5, 12, 17, 18 and 30 of the Stevens poem that comes closest to real serial writing (seriality at the level of the section, anyway).