BREAKING: “Man Who Changed The WORLD”…. DEAD At Age 90

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John Ashbery, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet known for his surrealist, confounding works, has died at age 90.

Known by many as “the man who changed the world,” Ashbery died of natural causes in his Hudson, N.Y., home early Sunday, confirms Farrar, Straus & Giroux, the publicist for a new Ashbery biography.

Few poets were so exalted in their lifetimes. Ashbery was the first living poet to have a volume published by the Library of America dedicated exclusively to his work. His 1975 collection, “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror,” was the rare winner of the book world’s unofficial triple crown: the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle prize. In 2011, he was given a National Humanities Medal and credited with changing “how we read poetry.”

Among a generation of poets that included Richard Wilbur, W.S. Merwin and Adrienne Rich, Ashbery stood out for his audacity and for his wordplay, for his modernist shifts between high oratory and everyday chatter, for his humor and wisdom and dazzling runs of allusions and sense impressions.

“No figure looms so large in American poetry over the past 50 years as John Ashbery,” Langdon Hammer wrote in The New York Times in 2008. “Ashbery’s phrases always feel newly minted; his poems emphasize verbal surprise and delight, not the ways that linguistic patterns restrict us.”

His 1975 collection, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, what many consider his masterpiece, won a rare trifecta of the literary world: the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle prize. The title poem was a mediation on Parmigianino’s 16th century Italian painting of the same name.

His style ranged from rhyming couplets to haiku to blank verse, and his interests were as vast as his gifts for expressing them. He wrote of love, music, movies, the seasons, the city and the country, and was surely the greatest poet ever to compose a hymn to President Warren Harding.

He described poetry as a “marginal occupation” within society, in a 2005 interview with Weekend Edition host Scott Simon. Critics have told him they’ve found his work inaccessible to a mainstream audience, he said, but his themes regarding the human experience, such as doubt and uncertainty, address many.

“I wish that they were as accessible to as many people as possible,” he told Simon. “They are not, I wouldn’t say, private. What they are is about the privacy of all of us and the difficulty of our own thinking and coming to conclusions. And in that way they are, I think, accessible if anybody cares to access them.”

“My ambition was to be a painter,” he told Ashbery told Peter Stitt of the Paris Review. He took painting classes in his preteen years, but “found that poetry was easier than painting.” Meanwhile, he began consuming modern poetry.

I’ll admit, I have no idea who this man was but apparently he made his mark in the literary world.

Did he “change the world?” He didn’t change mine.

Rest in peace.


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God Bless.

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