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John Ashbery 1927-2017

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I know that I braid too much on my own

Snapped-off perceptions of things as they come to me.

They are private and always will be.

Where then are the private turns of event

Destined to bloom later like golden chimes

Released over a city from a highest tower?

The quirky things that happen to me, and I tell you,

And you know instantly what I mean?

What remote orchard reached by winding roads

Hides them? Where are these roots?



RIP. I freely admit there were times I had no idea what he was on about.  


From the Guardian piece:


Few poets were so exalted in their lifetimes. Ashbery was the first living poet to have a volume published by the Library of America dedicated exclusively to his work. His 1975 collection, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, was the rare winner of the American book world’s unofficial triple crown: the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle prize. In 2011, he was given a National Humanities Medal and credited with changing “how we read poetry”.


It is nice that he was generously recognized in his own lifetime, not always the case.


A book on his early years was recently published:



His liberation only accelerated at Harvard, where he met two friends who would change the course of his career, Kenneth Koch and Frank O’Hara. Soon after graduating, the three would gather in Manhattan to form the nucleus of the New York School of poets, which has come to be viewed as one of the most prominent and influential movements in the history of American poetry........


Thank you for posting, Drew.

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From The New Yorker:




He visited Wellesley in 2007. After a brilliant reading, he took some questions. A voice from the back row asked, “What influence has food had on your work?” John giggled and looked delighted. He started in on an answer when the man clarified: he’d said Proust. John’s spirit sunk a little, though he still managed to give a brilliant answer. I always think of that moment when I imagine Ashbery’s mind, so brightened by the opportunity to talk at length about the meals he remembered.


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