John Ashbery

John Ashbery

Overview
John Lawrence Ashbery is an American poet. He has published more than twenty volumes of poetry and won nearly every major American award for poetry, including a Pulitzer Prize in 1976 for his collection Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. But Ashbery's work still proves controversial. In an article on Elizabeth Bishop
Elizabeth Bishop
Elizabeth Bishop was an American poet and short-story writer. She was the Poet Laureate of the United States from 1949 to 1950, a Pulitzer Prize winner in 1956 and a National Book Award Winner for Poetry in 1970. Elizabeth Bishop House is an artists' retreat in Great Village, Nova Scotia...

 in his Selected Prose, he characterizes himself as having been described as "a harebrained, homegrown surrealist whose poetry defies even the rules and logic of Surrealism
Surrealism
Surrealism is a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and is best known for the visual artworks and writings of the group members....

." Although renowned for the postmodern complexity and opacity of his work, Ashbery has stated that he wishes it to be accessible to as many people as possible, not a private dialogue.

"No figure looms so large in American poetry over the past 50 years as John Ashbery," Langdon Hammer, chairman of the English Department at Yale University
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

, wrote in 2008.
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Quotations

"Did I say that? One says so many things, and the problem is they all get written down."

(In response to the question "Why do you call yourself anti-art?," Bard College, 2005)

In the beginning there are those who don't quite fit inBut are somehow okay. And then some morningThere are places that suddenly seem wonderful:Weather and water seem wonderful,And the peaceful night sky that arrivesIn time to protect us, like a swordCutting the blue cloak of a prince.

"A Snowball in Hell," April Galleons

These two guys in the front yard--Are they here to help?

"Gorboduc," April Galleons
Encyclopedia
John Lawrence Ashbery is an American poet. He has published more than twenty volumes of poetry and won nearly every major American award for poetry, including a Pulitzer Prize in 1976 for his collection Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. But Ashbery's work still proves controversial. In an article on Elizabeth Bishop
Elizabeth Bishop
Elizabeth Bishop was an American poet and short-story writer. She was the Poet Laureate of the United States from 1949 to 1950, a Pulitzer Prize winner in 1956 and a National Book Award Winner for Poetry in 1970. Elizabeth Bishop House is an artists' retreat in Great Village, Nova Scotia...

 in his Selected Prose, he characterizes himself as having been described as "a harebrained, homegrown surrealist whose poetry defies even the rules and logic of Surrealism
Surrealism
Surrealism is a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and is best known for the visual artworks and writings of the group members....

." Although renowned for the postmodern complexity and opacity of his work, Ashbery has stated that he wishes it to be accessible to as many people as possible, not a private dialogue.

"No figure looms so large in American poetry over the past 50 years as John Ashbery," Langdon Hammer, chairman of the English Department at Yale University
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

, wrote in 2008. "[N]o American poet has had a larger, more diverse vocabulary, not Whitman
Walt Whitman
Walter "Walt" Whitman was an American poet, essayist and journalist. A humanist, he was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his works. Whitman is among the most influential poets in the American canon, often called the father of free verse...

, not Pound
Ezra Pound
Ezra Weston Loomis Pound was an American expatriate poet and critic and a major figure in the early modernist movement in poetry...

." Stephen Burt
Stephen Burt
Stephen Burt is a literary critic, poet, and a professor who teaches at Harvard University.-Elliptical Poetry:Burt received significant attention for coining the term "elliptical poetry" in a 1998 book review of Susan Wheeler's book, Smokes, in Boston Review magazine...

, a poet and Harvard professor of English, has compared Ashbery to T. S. Eliot
T. S. Eliot
Thomas Stearns "T. S." Eliot OM was a playwright, literary critic, and arguably the most important English-language poet of the 20th century. Although he was born an American he moved to the United Kingdom in 1914 and was naturalised as a British subject in 1927 at age 39.The poem that made his...

, the "last figure whom half the English-language poets alive thought a great model, and the other half thought incomprehensible".

Life


Ashbery was born in Rochester, New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, and raised on a farm near Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. It is bounded on the north and southwest by the Canadian province of Ontario, and on the south by the American state of New York. Ontario, Canada's most populous province, was named for the lake. In the Wyandot language, ontarío means...

; his brother died when they were children. Ashbery was educated at Deerfield Academy
Deerfield Academy
Deerfield Academy is an independent, coeducational boarding school in Deerfield, Massachusetts, United States. It is a four-year college-preparatory school with approximately 600 students and about 100 faculty, all of whom live on or near campus....

. At Deerfield, an all-boys school, Ashbery read such poets as W. H. Auden
W. H. Auden
Wystan Hugh Auden , who published as W. H. Auden, was an Anglo-American poet,The first definition of "Anglo-American" in the OED is: "Of, belonging to, or involving both England and America." See also the definition "English in origin or birth, American by settlement or citizenship" in See also...

 and Dylan Thomas
Dylan Thomas
Dylan Marlais Thomas was a Welsh poet and writer, Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 11 January 2008. who wrote exclusively in English. In addition to poetry, he wrote short stories and scripts for film and radio, which he often performed himself...

, and began writing poetry. One of his poems was published in Poetry
Poetry (magazine)
Poetry , published in Chicago, Illinois since 1912, is one of the leading monthly poetry journals in the English-speaking world. Published by the Poetry Foundation and currently edited by Christian Wiman, the magazine has a circulation of 30,000 and prints 300 poems per year out of approximately...

magazine, although under the name of a classmate who had submitted it without Ashbery's knowledge or permission. He also published a handful of poems, including a sonnet about his frustrated love for a fellow student, and a piece of short fiction in the school newspaper, the Deerfield Scroll. His first ambition was to be a painter. From the age of 11 until he was 15 Ashbery took weekly classes at the art museum in Rochester.

Ashbery graduated in 1949 with an A.B., cum laude, from Harvard College, where he was a member of the Harvard Advocate, the university's literary magazine, and the Signet Society
Signet society
The Signet Society of Harvard University was founded in 1870 by members of the class of 1871. The first president was Charles Joseph Bonaparte. It was, at first, dedicated to the production of literary work only, going so far as to exclude debate and even theatrical productions. According to The...

. He wrote his senior thesis on the poetry of W. H. Auden
W. H. Auden
Wystan Hugh Auden , who published as W. H. Auden, was an Anglo-American poet,The first definition of "Anglo-American" in the OED is: "Of, belonging to, or involving both England and America." See also the definition "English in origin or birth, American by settlement or citizenship" in See also...

. At Harvard he befriended fellow writers Kenneth Koch
Kenneth Koch
Kenneth Koch was an American poet, playwright, and professor, active from the 1950s until his death at age 77...

, Barbara Epstein
Barbara Epstein
Barbara Epstein was a literary editor and a founding co-editor of the New York Review of Books.Epstein, née Zimmerman, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, United States, to a Jewish-American family, and graduated from Radcliffe College in 1949.Ms...

, V. R. Lang, Frank O'Hara
Frank O'Hara
Francis Russell "Frank" O'Hara was an American writer, poet and art critic. He was a member of the New York School of poetry.-Life:...

 and Edward Gorey
Edward Gorey
Edward St. John Gorey was an American writer and artist noted for his macabre illustrated books.-Early life:...

, and was a classmate of Robert Creeley
Robert Creeley
Robert Creeley was an American poet and author of more than sixty books. He is usually associated with the Black Mountain poets, though his verse aesthetic diverged from that school's. He was close with Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, Allen Ginsberg, John Wieners and Ed Dorn. He served as the Samuel P...

, Robert Bly
Robert Bly
Robert Bly is an American poet, author, activist and leader of the Mythopoetic Men's Movement.-Life:Bly was born in Lac qui Parle County, Minnesota, to Jacob and Alice Bly, who were of Norwegian ancestry. Following graduation from high school in 1944, he enlisted in the United States Navy, serving...

 and Peter Davison
Peter Davison (poet)
Peter Davison was an American poet, essayist, teacher, lecturer, editor, and publisher....

. Ashbery went on to study briefly at New York University
New York University
New York University is a private, nonsectarian research university based in New York City. NYU's main campus is situated in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan...

, and received an M.A. from Columbia
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

 in 1951.

After working as a copywriter in New York
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 from 1951 to 1955, from the mid-1950s, when he received a Fulbright Fellowship
Fulbright Program
The Fulbright Program, including the Fulbright-Hays Program, is a program of competitive, merit-based grants for international educational exchange for students, scholars, teachers, professionals, scientists and artists, founded by United States Senator J. William Fulbright in 1946. Under the...

, through 1965, Ashbery lived in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

. He was an editor of the 12 issues of Art and Literature (1964–67) and the New Poetry issue of Harry Mathews
Harry Mathews
Harry Mathews is an American author of various novels, volumes of poetry and short fiction, and essays.-Life:Born in New York City to an upper class family, Mathews was educated at private schools there and at the Groton School in Massachusetts before enrolling at Princeton University in 1947...

's Locus Solus (# 3/4; 1962). To make ends meet he translated French murder mysteries, served as the art editor for the European edition of the New York Herald Tribune
New York Herald Tribune
The New York Herald Tribune was a daily newspaper created in 1924 when the New York Tribune acquired the New York Herald.Other predecessors, which had earlier merged into the New York Tribune, included the original The New Yorker newsweekly , and the Whig Party's Log Cabin.The paper was home to...

and was an art critic for Art International (1960–65) and a Paris correspondent for Art News (1963–66), when Thomas Hess took over as editor. During this period he lived with the French poet Pierre Martory, whose books Every Question but One (1990), The Landscape Is behind the door (1994) and The Landscapist he has translated (2008), as he has Jean Perrault
Jean Perrault
Jean Perrault is a Canadian politician, who served as mayor of Sherbrooke, Quebec from 1994 to 2009, and as president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities....

 (Camouflage), Max Jacob
Max Jacob
Max Jacob was a French poet, painter, writer, and critic.-Life and career:After spending his childhood in Quimper, Brittany, France, he enrolled in the Paris Colonial School, which he left in 1897 for an artistic career...

 (The Dice Cup), Pierre Reverdy
Pierre Reverdy
Pierre Reverdy was a French poet associated with surrealism and cubism.Pierre Reverdy was born in Narbonne and grew up near the Montagne Noire in his father's house. Reverdy came from a family of sculptors. His father taught him to read and write. He studied at Toulouse and Narbonne.Reverdy...

 and Raymond Roussel
Raymond Roussel
Raymond Roussel was a French poet, novelist, playwright, musician, and chess enthusiast. Through his novels, poems, and plays he exerted a profound influence on certain groups within 20th century French literature, including the Surrealists, Oulipo, and the authors of the nouveau...

. After returning to the United States, he continued his career as an art critic
Art critic
An art critic is a person who specializes in evaluating art. Their written critiques, or reviews, are published in newspapers, magazines, books and on web sites...

 for New York
New York (magazine)
New York is a weekly magazine principally concerned with the life, culture, politics, and style of New York City. Founded by Milton Glaser and Clay Felker in 1968 as a competitor to The New Yorker, it was brasher and less polite than that magazine, and established itself as a cradle of New...

and Newsweek
Newsweek
Newsweek is an American weekly news magazine published in New York City. It is distributed throughout the United States and internationally. It is the second-largest news weekly magazine in the U.S., having trailed Time in circulation and advertising revenue for most of its existence...

magazines while also serving on the editorial board of ARTNews until 1972. Several years later, he began a stint as an editor at Partisan Review
Partisan Review
Partisan Review was an American political and literary quarterly published from 1934 to 2003, though it suspended publication between October 1936 and December 1937.-Overview:...

, serving from 1976 to 1980.

During the fall of 1963, Ashbery became acquainted with Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol
Andrew Warhola , known as Andy Warhol, was an American painter, printmaker, and filmmaker who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art...

 at a scheduled poetry reading at the Literary Theatre in New York. He had previously written favorable reviews of Warhol's art. That same year he reviewed Warhol's Flowers exhibition at Galerie Illeana Sonnabend in Paris, describing Warhol's visit to Paris as "the biggest transatlantic fuss since Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish writer and poet. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s...

 brought culture to Buffalo
Buffalo, New York
Buffalo is the second most populous city in the state of New York, after New York City. Located in Western New York on the eastern shores of Lake Erie and at the head of the Niagara River across from Fort Erie, Ontario, Buffalo is the seat of Erie County and the principal city of the...

 in the nineties." Ashbery returned to New York near the end of 1965 and was welcomed with a large party at the Factory
The Factory
The Factory was Andy Warhol's original New York City studio from 1962 to 1968, although his later studios were known as The Factory as well. The Factory was located on the fifth floor at 231 East 47th Street, in Midtown Manhattan. The rent was "only about one hundred dollars a year"...

. He became close friends with poet Gerard Malanga
Gerard Malanga
Gerard Joseph Malanga is an American poet, photographer, filmmaker, curator and archivist.-Early life:Born in the Bronx, New York, Malanga graduated from the School of Industrial Art in Manhattan and attended Wagner College on Staten Island...

, Warhol's assistant, on whom he had an important influence as a poet.

In the early 1970s, Ashbery began teaching at Brooklyn College, where his students included poet John Yau
John Yau
John Yau is an American poet and critic who lives in New York City. He received his B.A. from Bard College in 1972 and his M.F.A. from Brooklyn College in 1978...

. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is an independent policy research center that conducts multidisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems. The Academy’s elected members are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business, and public affairs.James Bowdoin, John Adams, and...

 in 1983. In the 1980s, he moved to Bard College
Bard College
Bard College, founded in 1860 as "St. Stephen's College", is a small four-year liberal arts college located in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.-Location:...

, where he was the Charles P. Stevenson, Jr., Professor of Languages and Literature, until 2008, when he retired; since that time, he has continued to win awards, present readings, and work with graduate and undergraduates at many other institutions. He was the poet laureate of New York state from 2001 to 2003, and also served for many years as a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets
Academy of American Poets
The Academy of American Poets is a non-profit organization dedicated to the art of poetry. The Academy was incorporated as a "membership corporation" in New York State in 1934...

. He serves on the contributing editorial board of the literary journal Conjunctions
Conjunctions
Conjunctions, is a biannual American literary journal based at Bard College. It was founded in 1981 and is currently edited by Bradford Morrow....

. He was a Millet Writing Fellow at Wesleyan University
Wesleyan University
Wesleyan University is a private liberal arts college founded in 1831 and located in Middletown, Connecticut. According to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Wesleyan is the only Baccalaureate College in the nation that emphasizes undergraduate instruction in the arts and...

, in 2010, and participated in Wesleyan's Distinguished Writers Series. Ashbery lives in New York City and Hudson, New York
Hudson, New York
Hudson is a city located along the west border of Columbia County, New York, United States. The city is named after the adjacent Hudson River and ultimately after the explorer Henry Hudson.Hudson is the county seat of Columbia County...

, with his partner, David Kermani.

Work


Ashbery's long list of awards began with the Yale Younger Poets Prize in 1956. The selection, by W. H. Auden
W. H. Auden
Wystan Hugh Auden , who published as W. H. Auden, was an Anglo-American poet,The first definition of "Anglo-American" in the OED is: "Of, belonging to, or involving both England and America." See also the definition "English in origin or birth, American by settlement or citizenship" in See also...

, of Ashbery's first collection, Some Trees, later caused some controversy. His early work shows the influence of W. H. Auden
W. H. Auden
Wystan Hugh Auden , who published as W. H. Auden, was an Anglo-American poet,The first definition of "Anglo-American" in the OED is: "Of, belonging to, or involving both England and America." See also the definition "English in origin or birth, American by settlement or citizenship" in See also...

, Wallace Stevens
Wallace Stevens
Wallace Stevens was an American Modernist poet. He was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, educated at Harvard and then New York Law School, and spent most of his life working as a lawyer for the Hartford insurance company in Connecticut.His best-known poems include "Anecdote of the Jar",...

, Boris Pasternak
Boris Pasternak
Boris Leonidovich Pasternak was a Russian language poet, novelist, and literary translator. In his native Russia, Pasternak's anthology My Sister Life, is one of the most influential collections ever published in the Russian language...

, and many of the French surrealists (his translations from French literature are numerous). In the late 1950s, John Bernard Myers, co-owner of the Tibor de Nagy Gallery
Tibor de Nagy Gallery
The Tibor de Nagy Gallery is an art gallery in New York City, USA. It was involved in the discovery of many of the Second Generation Abstract Expressionist Movement’s most important artists and also representational artists of the era including Grace Hartigan, Alfred Leslie, Helen Frankenthaler,...

, categorized the common traits of Ashbery's avant-garde
Avant-garde
Avant-garde means "advance guard" or "vanguard". The adjective form is used in English to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics....

 poetry, as well as that of Kenneth Koch
Kenneth Koch
Kenneth Koch was an American poet, playwright, and professor, active from the 1950s until his death at age 77...

, Frank O'Hara
Frank O'Hara
Francis Russell "Frank" O'Hara was an American writer, poet and art critic. He was a member of the New York School of poetry.-Life:...

, James Schuyler
James Schuyler
James Marcus Schuyler was an American poet whose awards include the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his 1980 collection The Morning of the Poem...

, Barbara Guest
Barbara Guest
Barbara Guest née Barbara Ann Pinson was an American poet and prose stylist. Guest first gained recognition as a member of the first generation New York School of poetry....

, Kenward Elmslie
Kenward Elmslie
Kenward Gray Elmslie is an American writer, performer, editor and publisher associated with the New York School of poetry.-Life and career:...

 and others, as constituting a "New York School
New York School
The New York School was an informal group of American poets, painters, dancers, and musicians active in the 1950s, 1960s in New York City...

". Ashbery then wrote two collections while in France, the highly controversial The Tennis Court Oath (1962), and Rivers and Mountains (1966), before returning to New York to write The Double Dream of Spring, which was published in 1970.

Increasing critical recognition in the 1970s transformed Ashbery from an obscure avant-garde experimentalist into one of America's most important (though still one of its most controversial) poets. After the publication of Three Poems (1973), Ashbery in 1975 won all three major American poetry prizes (the Pulitzer Prize
Pulitzer Prize
The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City...

, the National Book Award
National Book Award
The National Book Awards are a set of American literary awards. Started in 1950, the Awards are presented annually to American authors for literature published in the current year. In 1989 the National Book Foundation, a nonprofit organization which now oversees and manages the National Book...

, and the National Book Critics Circle Award
National Book Critics Circle Award
The National Book Critics Circle Award is an annual award given by the National Book Critics Circle to promote the finest books and reviews published in English....

) for his Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. The collection's title poem is considered to be one of the masterpieces of late-20th-century American poetic literature.

His subsequent collection, the more difficult Houseboat Days (1977), reinforced Ashbery's reputation, as did 1979's As We Know, which contains the long, double-columned poem "Litany." By the 1980s and 1990s, Ashbery had become a central figure in American and more broadly English-language poetry, as his number of imitators evidenced. His own poetry was accused of a staleness in this period, but books like A Wave (1985) and the later And the Stars Were Shining (1994), particularly in their long poems, show the unmistakable originality of a great poet in practice.

Ashbery's works are characterized by a free-flowing, often disjunctive syntax; extensive linguistic play, often infused with considerable humor; and a prosaic, sometimes disarmingly flat or parodic tone. The play of the human mind is the subject of a great many of his poems. Ashbery once said that his goal was "to produce a poem that the critic cannot even talk about." Formally, the earliest poems show the influence of conventional poetic practice, yet by The Tennis Court Oath a much more revolutionary engagement with form appears. Ashbery returned to something approaching a reconciliation between tradition and innovation with many of the poems in The Double Dream of Spring, though his Three Poems are written in long blocks of prose. Although he has never again approached the radical experimentation of The Tennis Court Oath poems or "The Skaters" and "Into the Dusk-Charged Air" from his collection Rivers and Mountains, syntactic and semantic experimentation, linguistic expressiveness, deft, often abrupt shifts of register, and insistent wit remain consistent elements of his work.

Ashbery's art criticism has been collected in the 1989 volume Reported Sightings, Art Chronicles 1957-1987, edited by the poet David Bergman
David Bergman
David Bergman is an American writer and English professor at Towson University. He was born in Fitchburg, Massachusetts , grew up in Laurelton, New York, and graduated from Kenyon College and earned a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University ....

. He has written one novel, A Nest of Ninnies, with fellow poet James Schuyler
James Schuyler
James Marcus Schuyler was an American poet whose awards include the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his 1980 collection The Morning of the Poem...

, and in his 20s and 30s penned several plays, three of which have been collected in Three Plays (1978). Ashbery's Charles Eliot Norton Lectures
Charles Eliot Norton Lectures
The Charles Eliot Norton Professorship of Poetry at Harvard University was established in 1925 as an annual lectureship in "poetry in the broadest sense" and named for the university's former professor of fine arts. Distinguished creative figures and scholars in the arts, including painting,...

 at Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

 were published as Other Traditions in 2000. A larger collection of his prose writings, Selected Prose and his poetry volume Where shall I wander? appeared in 2005. In 2008, his Collected Poems 1956–1987 was published as part of the Library of America
Library of America
The Library of America is a nonprofit publisher of classic American literature.- Overview and history :Founded in 1979 with seed money from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Ford Foundation, the LoA has published over 200 volumes by a wide range of authors from Mark Twain to Philip...

 series.

Reviews


In 2009 the Oxonian Review summarized Ashbery's work as follows:
This past October, the Library of America released John Ashbery’s Collected Poems (1956–1987), making him the first living poet to be “canonised” in the series. It is a fitting honour for a man whose decades-long reign as one of the high priests of the contemporary American poetry scene has always been something of a paradox. Having received nearly every major award for achievement in the humanities, he continues to incite considerable debate as to whether his poems “mean” anything at all. To read an Ashbery poem with the intent to explicate in the traditional sense is to make a daring, perhaps foolhardy, leap of semantic faith.

Awards and honors

  • 2011 National Book Award
    National Book Award
    The National Book Awards are a set of American literary awards. Started in 1950, the Awards are presented annually to American authors for literature published in the current year. In 1989 the National Book Foundation, a nonprofit organization which now oversees and manages the National Book...

    , Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters

Poetry collections

  • Turandot and Other Poems (1953)
  • Some Trees (1956), winner of the Yale Younger Poets Prize
  • The Tennis Court Oath (1962)
  • Rivers and Mountains (1966)
  • The Double Dream of Spring (1970)
  • Three Poems (1972)
  • The Vermont Notebook (1975), illustrated prose poems
  • Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (1975), awarded the Pulitzer Prize
    Pulitzer Prize
    The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City...

    , the National Book Award
    National Book Award
    The National Book Awards are a set of American literary awards. Started in 1950, the Awards are presented annually to American authors for literature published in the current year. In 1989 the National Book Foundation, a nonprofit organization which now oversees and manages the National Book...

    , and the National Book Critics Circle Award
    National Book Critics Circle Award
    The National Book Critics Circle Award is an annual award given by the National Book Critics Circle to promote the finest books and reviews published in English....

  • Houseboat Days (1977)
  • As We Know (1979)
  • Shadow Train (1981)
  • A Wave (1984), awarded the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize and the Bollingen Prize
    Bollingen Prize
    The Bollingen Prize for Poetry, which is currently awarded every two years by Beinecke Library of Yale University, is a literary honor bestowed on an American poet in recognition of the best book of new verse within the last two years, or for lifetime achievement.-Inception and controversy:The...


  • April Galleons (1987)
  • Flow Chart (1991), book-length poem
  • Hotel Lautréamont (1992)
  • And the Stars Were Shining (1994)
  • Can You Hear, Bird? (1995)
  • Wakefulness (1998)
  • Girls on the Run (1999), a book-length poem inspired by the work of Henry Darger
    Henry Darger
    Henry Joseph Darger, Jr. was a reclusive American writer and artist who worked as a custodian in Chicago, Illinois...

  • Your Name Here (2000)
  • As Umbrellas Follow Rain (2001)
  • Chinese Whispers (2002)
  • Where Shall I Wander (2005) (finalist for the National Book Award)
  • A Worldly Country (2007)
  • Planisphere (2009)


Collections, Prose, and Translations

  • The Ice Storm (1987), 32-page pamphlet
  • The Mooring of Starting Out: The First Five Books of Poetry (Ecco) collection of the poet's work from 1956 to 1972; a New York Times "notable book of the year" (1998)
  • Other Traditions, 6 long essays on 6 other poets (2000)http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog/ASHOTH.html
  • 100 Multiple-Choice Questions (2000) (reprint of 1970 experimental pamphlet)
  • Selected Prose 1953-2003 (2005)
  • Notes from the Air: Selected Later Poems (2007) (winner of the 2008 International Griffin Poetry Prize
    Griffin Poetry Prize
    The Griffin Poetry Prize is Canada's most generous poetry award. It was founded in 2000 by businessman and philanthropist Scott Griffin. The awards go to one Canadian and one international poet who writes in the English language....

    )
  • Martory, Pierre The Landscapist Ashbery (Tr.) Carcanet Press (2008)
  • Collected Poems 1956-87 (Carcanet Press) (2010), ed. Mark Ford
  • Rimbaud, Arthur Illuminations Ashbery (Tr.) W. W. Norton & Company (2011)

Further reading

  • Stephen Shore
    Stephen Shore
    Stephen Shore is an American photographer known for his deadpan images of banal scenes and objects in the United States, and for his pioneering use of color in art photography.- Life and work :...

    , Lynne Tillman
    Lynne Tillman
    Lynne Tillman is a novelist, short story writer, and cultural critic. She is currently Professor/Writer-in-Residence in the Department of English at the University at Albany and is the author of five novels, three collections of short stories, one collection of essays, and two other nonfiction...

    , The Velvet Years: Warhol's Factory 1965-1967
  • David Perkins, A History of Modern Poetry, Volume II, Modernism and After, Harvard University Press, 1987
  • Harold Bloom
    Harold Bloom
    Harold Bloom is an American writer and literary critic, and is Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University. He is known for his defense of 19th-century Romantic poets, his unique and controversial theories of poetic influence, and his prodigious literary output, particularly for a literary...

    , Figures of Capable Imagination
  • Laura Quinney, The Poetics of Disappointment: Wordsworth to Ashbery
  • John Shoptaw, On the Outside Looking Out, Harvard University Press, 1995
  • Helen Vendler
    Helen Vendler
    Helen Hennessy Vendler is a leading American critic of poetry.-Life and career:Vendler has written books on Emily Dickinson, W. B. Yeats, Wallace Stevens, John Keats, and Seamus Heaney. She has been a professor of English at Harvard University since 1984; between 1981 and 1984 she taught...

    , Soul Says, Harvard University Press, 1996
  • Andrew Epstein, Beautiful Enemies: Friendship and Postwar American Poetry (Oxford University Press, 2006)
  • John Emil Vincent, John Ashbery and You: His Later Books

External links