21 figs.

"A Serpentine Gesture"

John Ashbery's Poetry and Phenomenology
By Elisabeth W. Joyce



In “A Serpentine Gesture”: John Ashbery’s Poetry and Phenomenology Elisabeth W. Joyce examines John Ashbery’s poetry through the lens of Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s conception of phenomenology. For Merleau-Ponty, perception is a process through which people reach outside of themselves for sensory information, map that experiential information against what they have previously encountered and what is culturally inculcated in them, and articulate shifts in their internal repositories through encounters with new material. Joyce argues that this process reflects Ashbery’s classic statement of poetry being the “experience of experience.” Through incisive close readings of Ashbery’s poems, Joyce examines how he explores this process of continual reverberation between what is sensed and what is considered about that sensation and, ultimately, how he renders these perceptions into the “serpentine gesture” of language.

Contributor Bios
Elisabeth W. Joyce is a professor at Edinboro University. She is also the author of Cultural Critique and Abstraction: Marianne Moore and the Avant-Garde and “The Small Space of a Pause”: Susan Howe’s Poetry and the Spaces Between.