Tuesday, November 29, 2011

John Ashbery

Pulitzer Prize–winning poet John Ashbery was awarded the National Book Foundation's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011.

From his Q & A with Belinda Luscombe in Time magazine:

You were banned from Poetry magazine for a while. Why?

My school roommate was a frustrated poet, and he took some of my poems and some of his own, which were terrible, and sent them to Poetry, and then I sent my poems some time after that. And they sent back a one-word note--"Sorry." It wasn't until six months later, when I saw my poems in Poetry, I realized what had happened. I was now down in their books as a plagiarist. That was really depressing.

You grew up in an era when it was considered shameful to be gay. How would your work change if you grew up now?

There is a school of criticism that says that my poetry is so torturous and obscure because I've been trying to cover up the fact of my sexuality all these years, and I think that's an interesting possibility. But I'm not sure whether that's the generating force in my poetry. I think I would have been attracted to the surrealists anyway.
Read the complete Q & A.

--Marshal Zeringue