Today’s a grand day for American poetry, John Ashbery‘s 90th birthday! – Happy Birthday, John!
There’s a new biography (the first, actually) just out from FSG on John’s early life – The Songs We Know Best: John Ashbery’s Early Life, by Karin Roffman (taking it up to his departure for France in the mid ‘Fifties and the publication of his first major book, Some Trees), (she’s currently at work on a full biography)
She’s also been hard at work on a digital humanities project, just recently launched, and described thusly:
“John Ashbery’s Nest” is a website centered on a virtual tour of the Victorian home of American poet, collagist, art critic and collector John Ashbery .. The site provides a unique opportunity not only to see the art, objects, books and furniture in this house–the only home Ashbery has ever owned–but also to hear Ashbery read from related poems and talk about the provenance and resonance that these things, including the space itself, have played in his creative life. Ideally a visit to the interior of the (virtual) house makes one want to return to the interior life of the poems and vice versa, each illuminating the other.”
Meanwhile, back to John. Here is the cover from his most recent volume (from 2016), his twenty-eighth! – Commotion of The Birds
Jarrett Earnest‘s May 2016 interview in The Brooklyn Rail – (“Instead of asking you a lot of specific questions about poems, which is what people usually do…I’m going to ask you more “human being” type questions…”) – is available – here
And going back to the poems – An incomparable gathering of recordings (from as early as 1951, and carrying through to 2016) are available from the truly remarkable PennSound.
( It’s also, incidentally, Gerard Manley Hopkins birthday
– and Marcel Duchamp‘s birthday
– and (still very much among the living! – Happy 77th!) – Judy Grahn