Girls on the Run: A Poem

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999 - Poetry - 55 pages
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Girls on the Run is a poem loosely based on the works of the "outsider" artist Henry Darger (1892-1972), a recluse who toiled for decades at an enormous illustrated novel about the adventures of a plucky band of little girls. The Vivians are threatened by human tormentors, supernatural demons, and cataclysmic storms; their calmer moments are passed in Edenic landscapes. Darger traced the figures from comic strips, coloring books, and other ephemeral sources, filling in the backgrounds with luscious watercolor. John Ashbery's Girls on the Run creates a similar childlike world of dreamy landscapes, lurking terror, and veiled eroticism. Its fractured narrative mode almost (but never quite) coalesces into a surrealist adventure story for juvenile adults.

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Girls on the run: a poem

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Inspired by the work of Henry Dargeran obscure illustrator who spent decades writing a juvenile adventure novel in which young heroines, the Vivians, face a multitude of pulp dangersAshberys 20th work ... Read full review

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About the author (1999)

John Ashbery was born on July 28, 1927 in Rochester, New York. He was educated at Harvard and Columbia universities and studied in Europe on a Fulbright Scholarship. Initially wishing to be a painter, then a musician, he has had a variety of careers including reference librarian and art critic. In the early 1950s, he was a copywriter with Oxford University Press and McGraw-Hill. His collection of poems, Turandot and other Poems, published in 1953, established his reputation as one of the leading American poets of his generation. Ashbery feels strongly influenced by film and other art forms. The abstract expressionist movement in art had a profound effect on his writing style. Frequently termed a philosophical poet, Ashbery's poems often deal with the mind and the connection of the reader. Ashbery has published several volumes of poetry, including Houseboat Days and Flow Chart. Highly regarded by critics, he received a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, and a National Book Critics Circle Award in 1976, all for Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. He received the Ambassador Book Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. In 2011, he won the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He also writes under the pseudonym Jonas Berry.

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