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A Guided Tour by Eric Lorberer, The Ashbery Bridge: Poetry and Public Space

Ashberry Bridge
The Irene Hixon Whitney Bridge as seen from the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Photograph by Kelly Everding.

One of John Ashbery's finest poems is strung across a bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota: commissioned by architect and sculptor Siah Armajani, this untitled poem works with an arresting visual design to create a piece of art that dramatically inserts poetry into the public
Eric Lorberer
sphere. In this talk, poet/critic Eric Lorberer offers a "guided tour" of the bridge with numerous accompanying visuals, elucidating not only how the poem functions as a piece of public art, but also examining how this work fits into and informs Ashbery's poetics.

Eric Lorberer holds an MFA from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and has published poems in numerous journals, including American Poetry Review, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Sentence, and Volt. He edits the acclaimed quarterly Rain Taxi Review of Books and is the director of the Twin Cities Book Festival (held annually in Minneapolis in the shadow of the Ashbery bridge) and the Rain Taxi Reading Series.

The Skaters

Eric Lorberer
That there is snow falling.

A syzygy taps at the roof, like music.

Echoes blur.

. . . the broken walls, the damp

That there is a limit to voices without.

Signs dropping from the sky like baby spiders.

An incredible ache starts in the ankle
and ends in the eye.

. . . a distant
hunger or thirst.

Beneath the boot-heel a tyrant's vial.

Dinosaur exhibit.

The way the skaters pointed with their bodies.

That there is a safe place inside her nightmare,
an embryo adrift in starlight,
gazing at the canal.

The verb is in love with the noun.
The verb executes the noun.

Thin pages between the object and the cold air.

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