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John Ashbery

(b. 1927)


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(1927– ),

American poet, born in New York. He graduated from Harvard in 1949, by which time he had already composed the title poem of his first volume, Song Trees, which was published in the Yale Younger Poets series edited by Auden in 1956. Ashbery spent most of the following decade in Paris, where his work grew more experimental and disjunctive. His second and most radical collection, The Tennis Court Oath (1962), became an important influence on the development of ‘Language Poetry’. Ashbery achieved canonical status with his sixth volume, Self‐Portrait in a Convex Mirror (1975). He was the first of the so‐called ‘New York School’—which included Frank O'Hara, Kenneth Koch, and James Schuyler—to achieve wide recognition. His poetry is characterized by its openness to the vagaries of consciousness, its wry, beguiling lyricism, and its innovative use of forms such as the pantoum and the sestina. H. Bloom has frequently declared Ashbery to be the most significant poet since W. Stevens. His recent collections include Chinese Whispers: Poems (2002) and Where Shall I Wander: New Poems (2005).

Subjects: Literature.


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