John Ashbery

(3144 words)
  • Daniel Kane (University of East Anglia)

John Ashbery was born on 28 July 1927 in Rochester, New York, and grew up on a farm thirty miles away in Sodus, New York. From a very early age, Ashbery was shy, bookish, and intellectual. In his early poem and self-portrait “The Picture of Little J.A in a Prospect of Flowers,” Ashbery describes his appearance as

My small self in that bank of flowers:
My head among the blazing phlox
Seemed a pale and gigantic fungus.
I had a hard stare, accepting
Everything, taking nothing.

Ashbery seems to present himself here as a kind of distrustful outcast (suggested by “the hard stare”), though the lines also suggest a complicated mix of the gentle, the geeky and the learned. Such a “…

Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are a member (student of staff) of a subscribing institution (see List), you should be able to access the LE on campus directly (without the need to log in), and off-campus either via the institutional log in we offer, or via your institution's remote access facilities, or by creating a personal user account with your institutional email address. If you are not a member of a subscribing institution, you will need to purchase a personal subscription. For more information on how to subscribe as an individual user, please see under Individual Subcriptions.

Kane, Daniel. "John Ashbery". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 24 June 2003
[, accessed 01 October 2016.]

Articles on Ashbery's works

  1. Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror

Related Groups

  1. The New York School