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With death of John Ashbery last Sunday in the Hudson, N.Y. home he shared with his husband David Kermani, the world lost a poet of exceptional sensitivity, sophistication, and grace. He was also utterly uproarious, restless, and mischievous; wildly ambitious and exceptionally well-read—but at the same time deeply unpretentious, full of life and full of the dickens, as loyal as they come and generous to a fault. He had a whoopee cushion and a philosophical turn of mind. He was also the most famous living poet in the world.
We at Boston Review have always been proud to count Ashbery among the magazine’s frequent contributors and longtime supporters and we will miss him enormously. Earlier this week we asked Marjorie Perloff, a close personal friend of Ashbery, if she would share a brief remembrance of the poet with our readers. We are grateful to her for her words, which capture so much of his spirit as only she can.
You can read a selection of Ashbery’s poems here. For more about Ashbery’s poetry and translations, start with Forrest Gander’s In Search of John Ashbery, James Longenbach’s Poetry Is Poetry, Robert Huddleston’s The Escape Artist, and John D’Agata’s review of Girls on the Run. You can also read A Refutation of Common Sense, an interview with John Ashbery, reviews of Ashbery's books, and Ashbery's introduction to Christopher Edgar.
Stefania Heim is the author of A Table That Goes On for Miles (Switchback Books, 2014) and a poetry editor at Boston Review.
Timothy Donnelly is Poetry Editor at Boston Review and author of The Cloud Corporation.
BK Fischer was poetry editor at Boston Review. She is the author of St. Rage’s Vault, winner of the 2012 Washington Prize; Mutiny Gallery, winner of the 2011 T. S. Eliot Prize; and Museum Mediations, a critical study. She teaches at the Hudson Valley Writers’ Center.
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