University of Rochester

EVENT: Acclaimed Poet, Rochester Native John Ashbery Gives Reading

September 11, 2003

John Ashbery, considered one of the most influential and innovative American poets of the past century and probably the most honored poet of his generation, will read from his works at 3:15 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11, in Hubbell Auditorium in Hutchison Hall on the University of Rochester's River Campus.

The author of more than 20 books of poetry, Ashbery has received almost every major poetry prize and is the current New York State Poet. He also has published plays, a novel, and literary criticism, and is a respected art critic. His works have been translated into more than 15 languages and literary critic Harold Bloom has called him "America's greatest living poet."

Born in Rochester in 1927, Ashbery received his bachelor's degree from Harvard University, where he was selected as "Class Poet," and earned his master's degree from Columbia University in 1951. Five years later, W. H. Auden selected his book of poems Some Trees for inclusion in the Yale Series of Younger Poets.

Ashbery's 1966 collection Rivers and Mountains was a finalist for the National Book Award. In 1975, his volume Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror earned him the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry. His most recent books of poetry include As Umbrellas Follow Rain, Your Name Here, and Chinese Whispers.

In 1996, Ashbery became the first English-language poet to win the Grand Prix de Biennales Internationales de Poésie in Brussels. He also has received the Bollingen Prize, the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, the Robert Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America, the Gold Medal for Poetry from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets, and the prestigious Antonio Feltrinelli International Prize for Poetry from the Academia Nazionale dei Lince in Rome.

In 1980, Ashbery became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was named a fellow of the Academy of American Poets two years later. Formerly a distinguished professor of poetry at Brooklyn College and Harvard University, he has been the Charles P. Stevenson, Jr. Professor of Languages and Literature at Bard College since 1990 and divides his time between Bard and New York.

Ashbery's appearance at the University is part of The Plutzik Series and coincides with Meliora Weekend, an annual celebration that draws students, parents, alumni, and friends to River Campus for three days of programs and festivities.

The Plutzik Series is one of the country's oldest and most prestigious literary reading programs and readings are free and open to the public. Established to honor the work of Hyam Plutzik, a distinguished poet and Deane Professor of Poetry and Rhetoric at the University, it has featured more than 175 noted writers, including Pulitzer Prize winners Anthony Hecht, Elizabeth Bishop, and Galway Kinnell. The Plutzik Series is administered by the Department of English. For more information, call (585) 275-4092.