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The Vermont Notebook Hardcover – Special Edition, 1 Aug 1975


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 102 pages
  • Publisher: Black Sparrow Press,U.S.; Limited signed edition edition (1 Aug. 1975)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0876852274
  • ISBN-13: 978-0876852279

Product Description

About the Author

Pulitzer Prize winning poet John Ashbery has translated many French writers, including Alfred Jarry, Pierre Reverdy, and Raymond Roussel. In 2011 he was awarded the National Book Foundation s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Joe Brainard (1942-1994) left Tulsa at eighteen for New York City and soon became a part of the thriving downtown art scene and the New York School of poets and painters. Over his career, Brainard created a prodigious body of work, distinguished by its breadth, originality, and rare alchemy of sensuality and precision, sophistication and sweetness. Admired for his writing as well as his visual art, Brainard wrote the legendary and beloved memoir I REMEMBER, which was hailed as "a masterpiece" by Paul Auster and inspired George Perec's Je me souviens. Brainard's drawings, assemblages, collages, and paintings are in private and museum collections, including those of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of America Art, and a major travelling retrospective was organized by the Berkeley Art Museum in 2001 and included a stop at MOMA P.S 1.

Joe Brainard (1942-1994) left Tulsa at eighteen for New York City and soon became a part of the thriving downtown art scene and the New York School of poets and painters. Over his career, Brainard created a prodigious body of work, distinguished by its breadth, originality, and rare alchemy of sensuality and precision, sophistication and sweetness. Admired for his writing as well as his visual art, Brainard wrote the legendary and beloved memoir I REMEMBER, which was hailed as "a masterpiece" by Paul Auster and inspired George Perec's Je me souviens. Brainard's drawings, assemblages, collages, and paintings are in private and museum collections, including those of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of America Art, and a major travelling retrospective was organized by the Berkeley Art Museum in 2001 and included a stop at MOMA P.S 1. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Amazon.com: HASH(0x933dc6f4) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8064e34) out of 5 stars Ashbery and Brainard 10 Mar. 2009
By Robin Friedman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In 1975, the American poet John Ashbery published "Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror." This difficult book established Ashbery's reputation as a major American poet. The book received the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

Ashbery published another book in 1975 which did not receive any accolades. This was a short book, "The Vermont Notebook" published with drawings by the American artist, Joe Brainard (1942 -- 1994) who had been born in Tulsa but had long called New England home. "The Vermont Notebook" was published by Joe Martin and Black Sparrow Press -- Martin would achieve fame as the publisher of Charles Bukowski -- although portions of the book had appeared earlier in little magazines. "The Vermont Notebook" quickly became an obscurity in the stream of Ashbery's poetry.

In 2001, this little book was republished in the edition I am reviewing here. In 2008, "The Vermont Notebook" was included in the Library of America's collection of Ashbery's collected poems, 1956 -- 1987, guaranteeing the work's accessibility for future readers.

The collaboration between Ashbery and Brainard is pure delight. Ashbery wrote "The Vermont Notebook" while taking a bus trip through New England. The book is written in a free-flow spontaneous style, a type of "spontaneous prose" that Jack Kerouac and other beat writers had attempted some years earlier. The book also has elements of a collage as Ashbery lifed passages and paragraphs from earlier writings by himself and by others. The several paragraphs at the end of the book, for example, which discuss conservation efforts at the Marine Ecology Station in Marco, Maine, are taken from an article titled "Fishing improves at Marco."

The book flits from one subject to another with lightness, wit, and free association. It begins with a simple reference to "The climate, the cities, the houses, the streets, the stores, lights,people." It then proceeds with increasingly long lists of places, scenes, businesses, people, games, crimes, and other things and activities that Ashbery loosely associates with New England. It is Walt Whitman but with an airy touch. This is followed by musings of different subjects, with no rigorously logical order, from Ashbery comparing himself to "a dump", to ruminations on Charles Ives, to travel, nature, small towns, shopping malls,love, sex, a poodle parlor, nature, suburbia, cigarettes, postcards to friends and much else. The work includes a short poem called "The Fairies Song" which captures much of the feel of the volume. It concludes:

"We dance on hills above the wind
And leave our footsteps there behind.
We raise their tomatoes.
The clear water in the chipped basin reflects it all:
A spoiled life, alive, and streaming with light."

Joe Brainard's drawings, which appear on almost every page are the perfect complement to Asbery's musings. In their simple and frequently prosaic character, Brainard offers an earthy commentary on Ashbery's fancy. Brainard gives the reader simple rural scenes, the sun and the rain, farms, items of old clothes, the poodle, a naked man, lovers kissing. Besides flowers, fish, fishermen, and farms, Brainard offers a drawing of a commode and of the door to a men's room. Brainard's drawings and Ashbery's text intertwine to create a work of whimsy and gaiety.

Many readers have difficulty with Ashbery's "Self-Portrait" and the other volumes of poetry for which he is famous. But it is difficult to avoid being enchanted by this little, formerly obscure little book. In its deftness and lightness of touch, together with Brainard's drawings, this book is an accessible introduction to Ashbery and his art, even for readers who are puzzled by the bulk of his other poetry.

Robin Friedman
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Simon Barrett 'Il Penseroso' - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I'm not sure the other reviewer quite conveys this book's split personality. Like two musicians riffing independently (but within earshot), sweet and dry, Brainard's plain yet lyrical images in their very artlessness both emphasize and soften the dry Ashberian tang of this distinctly unidyllic text, that includes penises, boogers, chainstores' ruthless discounting practices, pop songs 'of the day' and much bland maundering. Sure, they had a good holiday, but it's the art that makes it and it's because of the pictures I'm not parting with my Black Sparrow copy (for Friends of Joe, they're still available, folks!); the Library of America simply doesn't do them justice
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