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CAN YOU HEAR, BIRD
John Ashbery. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $20 (176p) ISBN 0-374-11831-0
The talky voice that has been unflappably echoing American culture and crossing it with higher-tone concerns returns in a fullness of wry, observant wit. Ashbery (And the Stars Were Shining) is clearly uncomfortable with the academic industry that has grown up around him: many of these poems directly address readers, critics and would-be biographers: "suppose this poem were about you--would you / put in the things I've carefully left out" he asks, coolly enumerating such possibilities as …