Post image for Ur Poems: Brian Chappell

Ur Poems: Brian Chappell

Ur Poems: Brian Chappell

by Brian Chappell on February 11, 2011

It was the novel, specifically The Brothers Karamazov, that once and for all set me on the path toward dedicating my life to literature. Only recently has poetry come to occupy a similarly sacred space as the novel in my outlook. This delay is not due to any prejudice on my part, but more to a simple lack of sufficient exposure.

The main catalyst for this awakening was John Ashbery’s “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror.” When I first encountered it, I had been studying Pynchon, Barth, DeLillo, and David Foster Wallace. Namely, practitioners of the massive, whose major works will undoubtedly stand as monuments to our historical and cultural moment. “Self-Portrait” is one such undertaking.

The sheer philosophical, epistemological, formal and emotional scope exhilarates me every time I read it. It is a virtuosic, dynamic, and ultimately heart-wrenching meditation on self-consciousness and loss, central notions of late twentieth-century art. Like those masters of narrative I mentioned, Ashbery causes me to pause and reflect with awed humility that I could never do what he did in this poem.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Yahia Lababidi via Facebook February 11, 2011 at 11:13 am

Gratifying to see you’ve crossed over to the other side:) Poetry, Ashbery’s and others, rewards patience and concentration: two qualities which, given my brief experience with you, I suspect you possess in abundance. Wishing you many more happy discoveries!

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: