Martha Rhodes



Poems By John Ashbery

As You Came From The Holy Land

And Ut Pictura Poesis is her Name

Objection Sustained




John Ashbery has received nearly every major writing award the literary world has to offer, and his work has been translated into more than twenty-five languages. Author of twenty poetry collections, as well as plays, fiction, translations, and art criticism, he has long defied any singular artistic identity, “juggling the infinite possibilities of genre,” as critic Helen Vendler put it.

Ashbery first met critical acclaim with his 1956 collection Some Trees, which was selected by W. H. Auden for the Yale Younger Poets Series. Perhaps his most famous work is 1975’s Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, which the New York Times noted for its “breathtaking freshness and adventure in which dazzling orchestrations of language open up whole areas of consciousness no other American poet has even begun to explore.” The book received the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the National Book Award. His most recent volume, Planisphere, was praised by Boston Phoenix as “repetitive…in the way that a beach is repetitive with sand, or the night sky is repetitive with stars.”

Ashbery describes himself as "a harebrained, homegrown surrealist whose poetry defies even the rules and logic of Surrealism." With Kenneth Koch and Frank O’Hara, among others, Ashbery was part of the New York School of poets, an informal group active in the 1950s and 60s, whose work is heavily influenced by surrealism, modernism, and abstract expressionism. Rather than writing poems representative of experiences, the group aimed to write poems that are experiences in and of themselves.

A native of Rochester, New York, Ashbery spent his high school years at Deerfield Academy, later attending Harvard, where he befriended Koch and O'Hara, and went on to earn a Masters degree in French Literature from Columbia University. A two-time Fulbright scholar, he lived in Paris for a decade, where he wrote art criticism, returning to New York and continuing to work for ArtNews, where he served as executive editor until the magazine was sold in 1972.  His teaching began with a long stint as Co-Director of the MFA program in creative writing at Brooklyn College and includes a year at Harvard as the Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry and nearly two decades as the Charles P. Stevenson, Jr. Professor of Languages and Literature at Bard College.

Ashbery has served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poetsand Poet Laureate of New York. Among his innumerable awards and honors are a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, two Ingram Merrill Foundation grants, two Guggenheim fellowships, the Bollingen Prize, the Poetry Society of America's Shelley Memorial Award, The Nation magazine's Lenore Marshall Award, the Academy of American Poets' Wallace Stevens Award. Retired now from teaching, Ashbery remains a prolific writer and an important presence in the literary world. He lives in New York with his partner, the writer David Kermani.








    Poetry Center Reading:

Fall 2010 (cancelled)

Fall 2011