John Ashbery papers
- circa 1914-2018
- Ashbery, John, 1927-2017 (Person)
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Access
Extent250 linear feet (224 boxes)
14 Terabytes (89 items)
Biographical / Historical
Ashbery earned degrees from Harvard (1949) and Columbia. At Harvard, he began life-long friendships with fellow poets Frank O’Hara, Kenneth Koch, Barbara Guest, and Robert Creeley. He went to France as a Fulbright Scholar in 1955, living there for much of the next decade. He lived during this time with the French poet Pierre Martory whose books Ashbery translated. He also translated works of Arthur Rimbaud, Max Jacob, Pierre Reverdy, and many titles by Raymond Roussel. Ashbery worked with dozens of composers over the years including Elliott Carter, Ned Rorem, and Eric Salzman.
He was the issue editor of a double issue (numbers 3-4) of Locus Solus (1961-1962), served as executive editor of Art News (1966-1972), as art critic for New York magazine and Newsweek, and occasionally as a film critic. His collages are represented by Tibor de Nagy Gallery (New York). He taught for many years at Brooklyn College (CUNY) and Bard College, and in 1989-1990 delivered the Charles Eliot Norton lectures at Harvard (2000). He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters (receiving its Gold Medal for Poetry in 1997) and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and he was a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1988 to 1999.
The winner of many national and international prizes, appointments, and awards, he received two Guggenheim Fellowships and was a MacArthur Fellow from 1985 to 1990. He was awarded the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from the National Book Foundation (2011), the National Humanities Medal presented by President Obama at the White House (2012), and the Bollingen Prize. Harvard, among a number of institutions, awarded Ashbery an honorary degree (2001); it also awarded him the Harvard Arts Medal (2009) and the Signet Society’s Medal for Achievement in the Arts. The Harvard Film Archive honored him in a 2009 series, “John Ashbery at the Movies”.
An early book by Ashbery, Some Trees (1956), was selected by W.H. Auden for the Yale Younger Poets Series. Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (1975) won three major American prizes: the Pulitzer, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Ashbery’s many collections of poetry include Commotion of the Birds (2016), Breezeway (2015), Quick Question (2012), Planisphere (2009) and Notes from the Air: Selected Later Poems (2007), which was awarded the 2008 International Griffin Poetry Prize. The Library of America published the first volume of his collected poems in 2008 and the second in 2017. A two-volume set of his collected translations from the French (poetry and prose) was published in 2014. His own work has been translated into more than twenty-five languages.
Ashbery lived in New York City and Hudson, New York, with his husband, David Kermani. He died of natural causes on September 3, 2017, at his home in Hudson.
- Kermani, David. “Ashbery bio”, June 6, 2020. Email.
- Morris, Leslie A. “In Memoriam: John Ashbery”. Houghton Library Blog. Accessed June 10, 2020. https://blogs.harvard.edu/houghton/in-memoriam-john-ashbery/
- Wikipedia contributors. John Ashbery [Internet]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia; 2020 Apr 25 [cited 2020 Jun 10]. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=John_Ashbery&oldid=953078964.
- Additional information is available in the “About John Ashbery” section of the website for the Ashbery Resource Center (a project of The Flow Chart) website (https://www.flowchartfoundation.org/arc).
Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements
Immediate Source of Acquisition
- ARC: Ashbery Resource Center in Hudson, NY. "A physical and virtual space for discovery and research." A project of the Flow Chart Foundation.
- DK: David Kermani, John Ashbery's husband
- ES: Emily Skillings, John Ashbery's assistant and organizer
- FCF: Flow Chart Foundation in Hudson, NY. "...explores the interrelationships of various art forms—with a focus on the language of inquiry known as poetry—as guided by the legacy of American poet John Ashbery and promotes engagement with his work."
- JA: John Ashbery
- Ashbery, John, 1914-2017. John Ashbery papers, circa 1927-2018 (MS Am 3189): Guide.
- Houghton Library, Harvard University.
- 2020 March 19
- Description rules
- Language of description
- Finding aid written in English.
- EAD ID
Part of the Houghton Library Repository
Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, literary and performing arts archives, and more. The library's holdings of primary source material are managed by an expert staff and shared with scholars, students and the public in the reading room.
Cambridge MA 02138 USA