Tonight I received a letter from John Ashbery, a follow up to the "prose poem" he was generous enough to pass along to CUE. First off, it's absolutely crazy to hold in my hands a piece of paper Ashbery took time to fold in thirds and place in an envelope. But high school crushes aside, included was a short note explaining the circumstances in which the text (which will appear in issue 5) was written. Below is the note--reproduced in full--as it will appear in CUE:
"This text was orginally written (in 2002) as part of a collaborative film project at the request of Yan Brailowsky, then a French diplomat living in New York. Five writers (Donald Breekenridge, Frederic-Yves Jeannet, Ron Padgett, John Yau, and Ashbery) were asked to 'contribute a maximum of one page of dialogue (and a minumum of one sentence)--"dialogue" being understood as "words uttered by at least one character." Each person has been proposed one of the five themes chosen: "yellow," "ears," "smiles," "food," and "little red book." Theme is a loose term you are welcome to interpret as you wish (after all, it's your dialogue.) [Ashbery's] theme would be "little red book."' It was also stipulated that the lines of dialogue could be used out-of-sequence."
Intriguing, yes. But here's the kicker:
"An initial script has been prepared, but the film has not yet been made. Brailowsky wants Ashbery to play the role of the Pope."
I laughed my ass of at that last part, trying to imagine Ashbery in one of those looming Pope hats...classic.
Publication in the same issue of CUE as Ashbery for anyone who writes a great prose poem that includes this scenario--a filmaker cajoling Ashbery to play the Pope.