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American poet John Ashbery, known as a post-modern master, dies at 90

One of America’s most noted poets, Ashbery published more than 20 volumes of poetry. He has also won nearly every major American award for poetry.

books Updated: Sep 17, 2017 08:01 IST
Press Trust of India, Washington
John Ashbery,Poet,Books
John Ashbery won a Pulitzer Prize in 1976 for his collection, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror.(David Shankbone/Wikipedia Commons)

Pulitzer-prize winning poet John Ashbery, a post-modern American trailblazer, has died at age 90 in Hudson, New York, his family announced to the US media. The experimental vanguardist was sometimes accused of writing poems that were at times less than accessible to a wider audience.

“Well, I’m told that they’re not,” he had said in a 2005 interview with NPR. “What they are is about the privacy of all of us, and the difficulty of our own thinking,” he said. Yet “they are, I think, accessible if anyone cares to access them.” His twists in register or tone routinely were so swift as to leave heads spinning. Yet they left many pleasantly disconcerted.

Ashbery, who said he felt influenced by John Yeats, studied at Columbia University. The Rochester, New York native loved to mix everyday language and thoughts with elevated language. His 1975 collection, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, made history when he became the lone writer to earn three major accolades the same year for the same work: the Pulitzer in addition to a National Book Award and a National Book Critics Circle Award. In 2012, Ashbery received the National Humanities Medal from then-president Barack Obama.

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First Published: Sep 04, 2017 09:40 IST