Last week I returned to my parent’s home in Sherman, a small town in the northernmost part of Connecticut. The house, nestled at the base of a mountain on the threshold of Candlewood Lake, offers a getaway from the city. Whispers move through the rooms, pressing inward from its perimeter and when darkness falls, the numerous windows become vast reflections that amplify any sense of absence. As I worked on some writing, read a bit, and spent some time with my family, I was interrupted by a thought that brought me to a town named Kent just a few miles north of Sherman: there a picture of Hyam Plutzik as a young poet, sitting beneath a tree at The Purple Rim with a box of Corn Flakes.
I began reading John Ashbery’s "As We Know," published in an elongated book typically found with reproductions of art, on a warm day in February—already an unexpected event for the time of year. The collection begins with Ashbery’s long poem “Litany” which runs along the horizontal pages in two columns “meant to be read as simultaneous but independent monologues.” As I began reading, reverberating between each column as they caught my attention, scattered thoughts began disrupting the language of the poem. I found myself simultaneously aware of the multiple speakers becoming, as well as my own train of thought as it became suspended between the two columns.