The poet, inspired by the painter, has inspired the printer. The result is hinted at on the opposite page. It is a leaf from a new edition of John Ashbery's poem ''Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror,'' which was prompted by a 16 th-century painting of the same name (shown below) by Parmigianino, an early Mannerist master, in Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum. In visual harmony with the shape of the portrait, the leaves are disks of handmade paper, 18 inches in diameter, stacked in a stainless steel canister with a convex mirror on the lid.
A Home Forum browser saw the book, which includes original prints by eight artists such as Willem de Kooning and Alex Katz, on display at the Grolier Club in New York, where it is part of the final exhibition in a series celebrating the club's hundredth anniversary - and starting its second century of free public exhibitions. Robert Nikirk of the Grolier Club put us in touch with Andrew Hoyem, director of the Arion Press in San Francisco, and we asked Mr. Hoyem if we could sample Arion's latest and most expensive ($2,500) volume for Home Forum readers. It follows works as diverse as ''Moby-Dick,'' ''The Maltese Falcon,'' and a Rilke poem.
Mr. Ashbery, author of the poem that is now printed like the spokes of a wheel, rejected the idea of using the painting on the cover of an earlier book in which ''Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror'' was the title poem. ''I wanted the poem to have a life of its own not connected with Parmigianino's masterpiece ,'' he recalls. He sees the present edition, illustrated by friends of his, as ''taking the poem away from itself and amplifying it in ways I had never anticipated.''