Poetry Everywhere
"This poem is concerned with language on a very plain level..."

John Ashbery

Paradoxes and Oxymorons

Born in Rochester, New York in 1927, John Ashbery is one of the most highly regarded American poets of the 20th century. He has won nearly every major American literary award; and his work is recognized for the revolutionary influence it has had on the poetry world. Considered difficult to read even by many of his admirers, Ashbery's avant-garde style has inspired legions of imitators. Still, despite his wide critical acclaim, he has remained open to change. "It is a thankless and hopeless task to try and keep up with Ashbery," Raymond Carney once observed. "He will never stand still, even for the space (or time) of one poem." Indeed, awards have seemed only to spur Ashbery's impulse to reinvent his poetic style and emerge, in the words of a critic for the New York Times Book Review "from the shadow of his own previous work." Ashbery's many honors include a National Book Critics Circle Award in 1975, and both a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and a National Book Award in 1976. He is currently the Charles P. Stevenson, Jr., Professor of Languages and Literature at Bard College in New York. This animation was created by Kate Raney. The poem is read here by DJ Spooky.

To read this and other poems by John Ashbery, as well as biographical information about the poet, please visit the Poetry Foundation Web site.