New York: Viking Penguin Inc., 1987. First Edition. First Printing. Octavo (24cm); dark blue cloth and paper-covered boards, with titles stamped in silver on spine; dustjacket; viii,97,pp. Inscribed on the title page in the year of publication: "For Elizabeth / John Ashbery / 9/23/87." Trivial wear along front joint, else Fine in a Near Fine dustjacket, unclipped (priced $15.95), with light wear to crown and some yellowing to inner flap edges.
Association copy of Ashbery's twelfth collection of poems, inscribed to author, literary critic, and New York Times Review of Books co-founder Elizabeth Hardwick, who was instrumental in aiding the poet in winning his first major award. "It must be said that the National Book Critics Circle award was "almost invented for" him, as Ashbery notes in his 2002 interview with Mark Ford. After a bad reivew of Self-Portrait in the New York Review of Books, Ashbery reports, "David Kalstone mentioned this review to one of the paper's editors, Elizabeth Hardwick. He said, 'Well, it's too bad John got knocked off his pedestal before he was even on it!" She said, 'What to you mean? He's always winning prizes.' David said, 'No, he's not. He's never won anything.' And Elizabeth, who liked me, said, 'Well, we'll have to see about that.' And she was one of the founders that very year of the National Book Critics Circle Award. Through her efforts, I think, I was the first to get it" (Vincent, John Emil. John Ashbery and You: His Later Books, p.178).