Steel and Air -a new film of a poem by John Ashbery

Directors Chris and Nick Libbey introduce their film of John Ashbery’s poem:

In the heart of Minneapolis stands the Irene Hixon Whitney Footbridge, designed by Siah Armajani. Connecting the Walker Art Museum Sculpture Garden with Loring Park, it has inscribed in its lintel a poem by John Ashbery. Our film, Steel and Air, aims to capture and enhance Ashbery’s poem by chronicling a man’s journey through life.



And now I cannot remember how I would
have had it. It is not a conduit (confluence?) but a place.
The place, of movement and an order.
The place of old order.
But the tail end of the movement is new.
Driving us to say what we are thinking.
It is so much like a beach after all, where you stand
and think of going no further.
And it is good when you get to no further.
It is like a reason that picks you up and
places you where you always wanted to be.
This far, it is fair to be crossing, to have crossed.
Then there is no promise in the other.
Here it is. Steel and air, a mottled presence,
small panacea
and lucky for us.
And then it got very cool.

John Ashbery

You can see a slideshow of Ashbery’s bridge here

With thanks to Chris and Nick Libbey for permission to show their film

Steel and Air from Sparky Stories on Vimeo.


  1. Nice little film. I spent time stuck, before the film started, on the descriptive phrase for Ashbery — a ‘highly achieved poet’. It’s an Ashbery sort of phrase. I wonder how you get to be highly achieved? And by whom. But I must not wonder this. It is getting very cool.

    Liked by 1 person

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