A capsule of the imaginative life of the individual, Some Trees is the 52nd volume of the Yale Series of Younger Poets
Comparing him to T. S. Eliot, Stephanie Burt writes that Ashbery is “the last figure whom half of the English-language poets alive thought a great model, and the other half thought incomprehensible.” After the publication of Some Trees, selecting judge W. H. Auden famously confessed that he didn’t understand a word of it. Most reviews were negative. But in this first book of poems from one of the century’s most important poets, one finds the seeds of Ashbery’s oeuvre, including the influence of French surrealists—many of whom he translated—and abstract expressionism.
John Ashbery (1927–2017) was an American poet and former executive editor of Art News, former arts critic for New York Magazine and Newsweek, and former chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1988 to 1999. His many collections include Notes from the Air: Selected Later Poems, which was awarded the International Griffin Poetry Prize. Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror won the three major American prizes—the Pulitzer, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. The Library of America published the first volume of his collected poems in 2008. His work has been translated into more than twenty-five languages.
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