Renowned American poet John Ashbery passed away over the weekend at his Hudson, New York home. He was 90. David Kermani, his husband, confirmed the news.
Ashbery was born in 1927 to Chester F. Ashbery and Helen Lawrence. He grew up in Sodus, New York and attended Harvard University. He received an M.A. in English from Columbia.
His work was both praised and criticized in kind for its surrealism and inaccessibility. Or rather, a perceived inaccessibility.
In 2005, he explained to NPR he was told his poems were inaccessible. ‘What they are is about the privacy of all of us, and the difficulty of our own thinking,’ he said. ‘And in that way, they are, I think, accessible if anyone cares to access them.’
Ashbery’s poems were abundant, complex, and moving. He wrote in more than one language and published more than 30 collections of poetry. His first, Turandot and other poems, came out in 1953 and his last, Commotion of the Birds, came out last year.
In 1976, he became the first and only writer to win the Pulitzer, National Book Award, and National Book Critics Circle Award in the same year for his collection Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror.
‘An enormous loss’
Both the literary and LGBTI communities mourn the loss of Ashbery.
Many people have taken to Twitter to share condolences as well as their favorite works and poems by the author.
The ending of John Ashbery's "How to Continue." What an enormous loss. pic.twitter.com/dd4zKfhDQ8
— Jared Bland (@jaredbland) September 3, 2017
I love you I love you I love you John Ashbery pic.twitter.com/yaGkareCdM
— Alexis Almeida (@roadrunnerroadr) September 3, 2017
RIP, John Ashbery. Old friend, great poet. "But the breeze has dropped, and silence is the last word."
— Nicholas Christopher (@NicChristopher) September 3, 2017
A poem that will always give us chills. RIP, John Ashbery pic.twitter.com/phYqXTPHUY
— The Adroit Journal (@adroitjournal) September 3, 2017
"What more is there to do, except stay? And that we cannot do." John Ashbery, 1927-2017.
— Joshua Clov3r (@bookofriot) September 3, 2017
John Ashbery's poems suggested a world I wanted to live in, and, in the best moments, thought I could. What a loss.
— Travis Nichols (@travisjnichols) September 3, 2017
RIP the great John Ashbery.
(from "A Wave," 1984) pic.twitter.com/YpkKLWtu5z
— Michael LaPointe (@MWLaPointe) September 3, 2017