John Ashbery

John Ashbery, 1927–, American poet, b. Rochester, N.Y., grad. Harvard (B.A., 1949), Columbia (M.A., 1951). Ashbery is among the most acclaimed contemporary American poets. During the 1960s and 70s he was one of the so-called New York school of poets, which also included Frank O'Hara, Kenneth Koch, and James Schuyler. Influenced early in his career by the method and music of John Cage, Ashbery has called his writing technique "managed chance." His poems are experimental in style and syntax, strongly visual, and narrative, but typically complex and somewhat obscure. His collections include Some Trees (1956), Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, his most celebrated work (1975; Pulitzer Prize), Shadow Train (1981), A Wave (1984), April Galleons (1987), And the Stars Were Shining (1994), Chinese Whispers (2002), Where Shall I Wander (2005), and Planisphere (2009). He also has written two book-length poems, Flow Chart (1991) and Girls on the Run (1999); three plays, The Compromise (1960), The Heroes (1960), and The Philosopher (1964); and coauthored a novel, A Nest of Ninnies (1969). Ashbery is an art critic as well, and edited the quarterly Art and Literature. Many of his art reviews and essays were collected in Reported Sightings (1989). He also has translated works by such French writers as Pierre Reverdy, Raymond Roussel, Max Jacob, and Arthur Rimbaud.

See his Selected Prose (2005); studies by D. Shapiro (1979), D. Lehman, ed. (1980) and as author (1999), H. Bloom, ed. (1985 and 2004), J. Shoptaw (1994), S. M. Schultz, ed. (1995), D. Herd (2000), G. Ward (2d ed. 2001), K. Bartczak (2006), A. DuBois (2006), and J. E. Vincent (2007).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

A Tradition of Subversion: The Prose Poem in English from Wilde to Ashbery
Margueritte S. Murphy.
University of Massachusetts Press, 1992
Changing Subjects: Digressions in Modern American Poetry
Srikanth Reddy.
Oxford University Press, 2012
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "New Digressions John Ashbery and the Changing Subjects of the Twenty-First Century"
Artists' Theatre: Four Plays
Frank O'Hara; John Ashbery; James Merrill; Lionel Abel; Herbert Machiz; Frank O'Hara; John Ashbery; James Merrill; Frank O'Hara; John Ashbery; James Merrill.
Grove Press, 1960
Librarian’s tip: "The Heroes" by John Ashbery begins on p. 43
John Ashbery's Elizabeth Bishop
Carson, Luke.
Twentieth Century Literature, Vol. 54, No. 4, Winter 2008
'Whispers out of Time': The Syntax of Being in the Poetry of John Ashbery
Norton, Jody.
Twentieth Century Literature, Vol. 41, No. 3, Fall 1995
Disseminating "Circumference": The Diachronic Presence of Dickinson in John Ashbery's "Clepsydra."
Gilson, Annette.
Twentieth Century Literature, Vol. 44, No. 4, Winter 1998
Modern Poetry after Modernism
James Longenbach.
Oxford University Press, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "John Ashbery's Individual Talent"
"The Tension Is in the Concept": John Ashbery's Surrealism
Suarez-Toste, Ernesto.
Style, Vol. 38, No. 1, Spring 2004
John Ashbery's Revision of the Post-Romantic Quest: Meaning, Evasion, and Allusion in "Grand Galop."
Lepkowski, Frank J.
Twentieth Century Literature, Vol. 39, No. 3, Fall 1993
Ashbery's "Self-Portrait." (John Ashbery)
Looper, Travis.
Papers on Language & Literature, Vol. 28, No. 4, Fall 1992
Acts of Mind: Conversations with Contemporary Poets
Richard Jackson.
University of Alabama Press, 1983
Librarian’s tip: "The Imminence of a Revelation" by John Ashbery p. 69
Reports of Looting and Insane Buggery Behind Altars: John Ashbery's Queer Politics
Vincent, John.
Twentieth Century Literature, Vol. 44, No. 2, Summer 1998
Harold Bloom: The Rhetoric of Romantic Vision
David Fite.
University of Massachusetts Press, 1985
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Five "The Poems at the End of the Romantic Mind: A. R. Ammons and John Ashbery"
The Columbia History of American Poetry
Jay Parini; Brett C. Millier.
Columbia University Press, 1993
Librarian’s tip: "James Merrill and John Ashbery" begins on p. 750
Playing It By: Literary Essays and Reviews
William H. Pritchard.
University of Massachusetts Press, 1994
Librarian’s tip: "John Ashbery" begins on p. 98
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