Parallel Movement of the Hands by John Ashbery: Carcanet Book Launch

  • DATE

    7 July 2021

  • TIME

    7:00 pm to 8:00 pm

  • AGES

    All ages welcome



Please join us to celebrate the launch of Parallel Movement of the Hands: five unfinished longer works by John Ashbery, edited by Emily Skillings. Hosting the reading will be Carcanet poet Oli Hazzard, joining Emily to discuss the new edition. The event will feature readings and discussion, and audience members will have the opportunity to ask their own questions. We will show the text during readings so you can read along. Register here and let us know you can make it by joining the Facebook event.

Parallel Movement of the Hands collects five long, serial poems (and prose poems) which John Ashbery left unfinished in the poet’s New York apartment. ‘In-progress and realised’ as their editor Emily Skillings puts it, these abundant poems are characteristic of the mature work of this American master, an adept of the glories of American speech, who is alert to its insinuating logics and its wild goose chases through popular culture and secret histories. In these poems, Carl Czerny rubs shoulders with the Hardy Boys, Arnold with Mapplethorpe, all of them integrated into Ashbery’s characteristically generous, omnivorous forms. ‘How could I have had such a good idea?’ asks ‘The History of Photography’. So many good ideas, such a wealth of surprising points of departure.

John Ashbery was born in Rochester, New York, in 1927. His books of poetry include Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, which received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the National Book Award. The winner of many prizes and awards both nationally and internationally, in 2011 he received the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from the National Book Foundation, and in 2012 he received a National Humanities Medal, presented by President Obama at the White House. He lived in New York until his death, aged ninety, in 2017.

Registration for this online event will cost £2, later redeemable against the cost of the book. All attendees will receive the discount code and how to purchase the book during and after event.

Please note that there is a limited number of places for the reading, so do book early to avoid disappointment. You should receive a confirmation email with details on how to join after you register. If this does not arrive, please contact us to let us know. Please also be aware that clicking ‘attending’ on the Facebook event will not guarantee your place – you must complete the Zoom registration here.

About the speakers:

Emily Skillings is the author of Fort Not (The Song Cave, 2017). She is a member of the Belladonna* Collaborative, a feminist poetry collective, small press, and event series. Skillings received her MFA from Columbia University, where she was a Creative Writing Teaching Fellow in 2017, and has taught creative writing at Yale University, Columbia University, the New School, Poets House, the 92nd Street Y, and through Brooklyn Poets. She was John Ashbery’s assistant from 2010 to 2017.

Oli Hazzard is the author of three books of poems, Between Two Windows (Carcanet, 2012), Blotter (Carcanet, 2018) and Progress: Real and Imagined (SPAM Press, 2020), and a book of literary criticism, John Ashbery and Anglo-American Exchange: The Minor Eras (Oxford University Press, 2018). He lives in Glasgow, and teaches at the University of St Andrews.