DECADES AGO, Harold Bloom declared that after the death of Wallace Stevens, in 1955, we entered the “age of Ashbery.” That may be one of the bolder pronouncements made by a famously bold literary critic, but there remains an undeniable truth to it, as one can encounter John Ashbery’s poems seemingly anywhere in the worldfrom Winnipeg to Berlin to Beijing.
Born in 1927 in Rochester, New York, Ashbery became the most influential poet of his generation. Like his New York School confrere Frank O’Hara, Ashbery possessed a deep affinity for music, art, and film, and indeed he was arguably one of the finest ekphrastic poets to have ever lived. His first volume of poems, Some Trees, published in 1956, was selected as a winner of the Yale Younger Poets Prizeby W. H. Auden. In collections such as The Tennis Court Oath (1962), The Double Dream of Spring (1970), and Three Poems (1972),
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