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The Myths Regarding Personalized Stationery

from Leaving the Atocha Station: A Novel by Ben Lerner

The best Ashbery poems, I thought, although not in these words, describe what it's like to read an Ashbery poem; his poems refer to how their reference evanesces. And when you read about your reading in the time of your reading, mediacy is experienced immediately. It is as though the actual Ashbery poem were concealed from you, written on the other side of a mirrored surface, and you saw only the reflection of your reading. But by reflecting on your reading, Ashbery's poems allow you to attend to your attention, to experience your experience, thereby enabling a strange kind of presence. But it is a presence that keeps the virtual possibilities of poetry intact because the true poem remains beyond you, inscribed on the far side of the mirror: "You have it but you don't have it. / You miss it, it misses you. / You miss each other." (p. 91)

— Leaving the Atocha Station: A Novel by Ben Lerner — Coffee House Press, Minneapolis 2011 — 9781566892742

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