The Count of Lautreamont - a nineteenth-century poet about whom little is known, except that he spent his brief adult life in various hotels in Paris, checking out of his transient existence at the age of 24 - is one of the forgotten presences alive in John Ashbery's collection. Hotel Lautreamont includes the poems and sequences he wrote during composition of his enormous poem Flow Chart, published in 1991 to great critical puzzlement and acclaim.
The title poem 'experiments' in pantoum form; and there are other demanding formal challenges. The poet proves as supple as Houdini in bringing them off. His obliquities are entertaining and eloquent. It is no longer necessary to describe him as 'obscure'or 'difficult': his poetic strategies are now part of the mainstream of American and British writing.