9780374528805 / 0374528802

Chinese Whispers: Poems


3.77 avg rating128 ratings by GoodReads

Publisher:Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003



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About the book:

According to a Victorian volume called Drawing Room Amusements (1879), in the game of Chinese Whispers "participants are arranged in a circle, and the first player whispers a story or message to the next player, and so on round the circle. The original story is then compared with the final version, which has often changed beyond recognition." In John Ashbery's latest collection, the verbal nucleus that is the incitement toward a poem undergoes changes caused not by careless listening but by endlessly proliferating trains of ideas that a word or phrase sets into motion. The poem has been transformed, often into "something rich and strange," but the strangeness is that of thought being opened up, like a geode, to reveal unexpected facets of meaning.

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