Poet John Ashbery to receive a major award

Poet John Ashbery will be awarded the 2011 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the 62nd National Book Awards ceremony on November 16th.

Ashbery has been active in poetry since 1953 (with his first book, the now-rare Turandot and Other Poems). In 1956, Ashbery won the prestigious Yale Series of Younger Poets Competition for his collection Some Trees, which inaugurated a long and prolific poetic career.

Some of Ashbery’s more famous books include The Tennis Court Oath, Three Poems (collecting three innovative prose poems), Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (winner of the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and the National Book Critics Circle Award: the book’s title poem is perhaps Ashbery’s best-known), Girls on the Run (inspired by the work of outsider artist Henry Darger), and the book-length poem Flow Chart.

Cumulative collections of Ashbery’s work include The Mooring of Starting Out: the First Five Books of Poetry and Notes from the Air: Selected Later Poems. Ashbery is also the first living poet to have had his work collected by the Library of America.

Ashbery’s prose has been collected in several volumes, including Selected Prose, Other Traditions (a collection of lectures on unique poets such as Raymond Roussel and Laura Riding), and Reported Sightings: Art Chronicles, 1957-1987.

Additionally, Ashbery is known for his translations, which have included Arthur Rimbaud’s Illuminations, Pierre Reverdy’s Haunted House, Max Jacob’s The Dice Cup, and Pierre Martory’s The Landscapist: Selected Poems.

Some web resources on Ashbery that will also be of interest:

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