Brooklyn, New York
58 at time of award
September 3, 2017
Area of Focus
Published July 1, 1985

About John's Work

John Ashbery is best known as a poet, but he is also an art critic, a playwright, and a translator.

His poetry is formally inventive, exhibiting a brilliant use of language, wit, technical skill, and imagination.  He is the author of over twenty books of poetry, including April Galleons (1987), Flow Chart (1991), Hotel Lautréamont (1992), And the Stars Were Shining (1993), Can You Hear, Bird (1995), Wakefulness (1998), and Chinese Whispers (2002).  He also published a novel, a collection of plays, a volume of art criticism, Reported Sightings: Art Chronicles, 1957-1987 (1989), and a set of essays exploring the lives and work of six writers with insights about legacy and dignity of writing, Other Traditions: the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures (2000). 


Ashbery lived in France from 1955 to 1965, first as a Fulbright Fellow and later as an art critic for the International Herald Tribune.  He returned to New York to become the executive editor of Art News, a position he held until 1972.  He is a former chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and is currently the Charles P. Stevenson, Jr., Professor of Languages and Literature at Bard College. 

Ashbery received a B.A. (1949) from Harvard University and an M.A. (1951) from Columbia University.

Updated January 2005.

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