Most reckless things are beautiful in some way and recklessness is what makes experimental art so beautiful, just as religions are beautiful because of the strong possibility that they are founded on nothing...

Parmigianino Selfportrait
  John Ashbery was born in Rochester, New York, on July 28, 1927. He is the author of more than twenty books of poetry, most recently Planisphere (Ecco, 2009) and A Worldly Country (2007). Ashbery has won nearly every major American award for poetry. His collection A Wave (1984) won the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (1975) received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the National Book Award; and Some Trees (1956) was selected by W. H. Auden for the Yale Younger Poets Series.
Ashbery feels strongly influenced by film and other art forms. The abstract expressionist movement in art had a profound effect on his writing style. Frequently termed a philosophical poet, Ashbery's poems often deal with the mind and the connection of the reader.


Some trees, 1956

Three Poems
Three Poems, 1972

Where Shall I Wander
Where Shall I Wander



Planisphere,2009, front
and back cover


Turandot and Other Poems, with four drawings by Jane Freilicher. New York: Tibor de Nagy Gallery, 1953. 300 copies.

Some Trees (poems), foreword by W. H. Auden, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1956, Ecco Press.
Just before leaving for Europe, Ashbery’s first book of poems, Some Trees, had been selected for the Yale Younger Poets Award by W.H. Auden, who had influenced much of Ashbery’s early poems and about whom Ashbery had written his senior thesis at Harvard.
Some Trees, is influenced by the work of Wallace Stevens and W. H. Auden, and reflects also Ashbery's reading of avant-garde French poets such as Raymond Roussel, Pierre Reverdy and Max Jacob.

The Poems
, poems by Ashbery, prints by Joan Mitchell. New York: Tiber Press, 1960. 225 copies.

The Tennis Court Oath
(poems), Wesleyan University Press (Middletown, CT), 1962. The Tennis Court Oath contains a number of cut-up poems composed out of seemingly arbitrary fragments of language.

Jacquet. New York: Alexander Iolas Gallery, 1964. Ashbery’s appreciation of the work of the artist Jacquet in a folder for the artist’s first exhibition in the United States.

Rivers and Mountains
(poems), Holt (New York, NY), 1966.

Selected Poems
, J. Cape (London, England), 1967.

Sunrise in Suburbia
, New York: Phoenix Book Shop, 1968. 126 copies.
Three Madrigals. New York: Poets Press, 1968. 162 copies.

. Los Angeles: Black Sparrow Press, 1969. 1,020 copies.

(With James Schuyler) A Nest of Ninnies (novel). New York: Dutton, 1969; Manchester: Carcanet, 1987.
Evening in the Country, Spanish Main Press, 1970.

The Double Dream of Spring
(includes “Fragment,” originally published in book form), New York: Dutton, 1970.
The title is borrowed from a painting by Giorgio de Chirico , whose work Ashbery greatly admires

The New Spirit
. New York: Adventures in Poetry, 1970. 65 copies.

Three Poems
, Viking (New York, NY), 1972.

The Serious Doll
, Published in 1975, Kermani Press (Syracuse, New York).50 copies, numbered and signed by the author.

(With Joe Brainard) The Vermont Notebook (poems), Black Sparrow Press (Santa Barbara, CA), 1975, reprinted, Granary Books (Calais, VT), 2001.

Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror: Poems
. New York: Viking, 1975; Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1976; new edition, with original prints by Richard Avedon, Elaine de Kooning, Willem de Kooning, Jim Dine, Jane Freilicher, Alex Katz, R. B. Kitaj, Larry Rivers, together with a foreword by Ashbery, a recording of his reading of the poem and, on the album, an essay by Helen Vendler, San Francisco: Arion Press, 1984, 175 copies, portfolio with sound recording.

Houseboat Days (poems),
Viking (New York, NY), 1977, reprinted, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1999.

Three Plays
. Calais, VT: Z Press, 1978, 1,526 copies; Manchester: Carcanet, 1988. Contains: The Heroes; The Compromise; The Philosopher.

As We Know (poems)
, Viking (New York, NY), 1979.

Shadow Train: Fifty Lyrics.
New York: Viking, 1981; Manchester: Carcanet, 1982

Spring Day.
Winston-Salem, NC: Palaemon Press, 1984.A Wave (poems), Viking (New York, NY), 1984.

Selected Poems,
Viking (New York, NY), 1985.

Collected Poems 1956–1987,
edited by David Bergman. New York: Knopf, 1989; Manchester: Carcanet, 1989.
This major book, thart ncludes the texts of his first twelve books, ws the first collection from The Library of America by a living poet.

April Galleons,
Penguin (New York, NY), 1987.

The Ice Storm,
Hanuman Books, 1987. Miniature book. Hanuman books are edited and published by Raymond Foye and Francisco Clemente and feature writings by various countercul tural figures in the arts. The highly saturated colors and gold printing of the books’ covers and their pocket-size format is inspired by Indian prayer books and by the tradition of Asian miniatures.
The Ice Storm Penn Sound (10.15)

Reported Sightings: Art Chronicles, 1957-1987
(art criticism), edited by David Berg man, Knopf (New York, NY), 1989.
After Ashbery returned to the United States in the mid-1960s, he continued to write criticism as an executive editor for Art News, a position he held until 1972, when he began an academic career as a professor of creative writing at Brooklyn College. Ashbery's art criticsim ranges from Parmaginiano (about whom one of his most famous long poems is written) to Saul Steinberg, Bonnard, the Fresh Air School and Japanese objets d'art. He was the friend and confidant of many of the leading painters of the second half of the twentieth century especially among the New York School, iincluding de Kooning, Freilicher, Katz and others.

Three Poems
(different text than 1972 volume with same title), Ecco Press (New York, NY), 1989.
Haibun, illustrations by Judith Shea, Collectif Génération (Colombes, France), 1990.

Flow Chart (poem)
, Knopf (New York, NY), 1991.

Hotel Lautreamont
, Knopf (New York, NY), 1992.

Three Books: Poems.
New York: Penguin, 1993. Republishes Houseboat Days; Shadow Train; A Wave.

And the Stars Were Shining
. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1994; Manchester: Carcanet, 1994.

Can You Hear, Bird: Poems
. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1995; Manchester: Carcanet, 1995.

Pistils (essays)
, photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe, Random House (New York, NY), 1996.

, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1998.

The Mooring of Starting Out: The First Five Books of Poetry
, Ecco Press (Hopewell, NJ), 1998. Republishes Some Trees; The Tennis Court Oath; Rivers and Mountains; The Double Dream of Spring; Three Poems.

Girls on the Run
, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1999.
Girls on the Run is a poem loosely based on the works of the "outsider" artist Henry Darger (1892-1972), a recluse who toiled for decades at an enormous illustrated novel about the adventures of a plucky band of little girls.

Other Traditions: The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures
, Harvard University Press (Cam bridge, MA), 2000.

Your Name Here
: Poems, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 2000.

As Umbrellas Follow Rain
, Qua Books (Lennox, MA), 2001.

Chinese Whispers
: Poems, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 2002.

Where Shall I Wander?
, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2005.

Selected Prose
, edited by Eugene Richie, University of Michigan Press (Ann Arbor, MI), 2005.

A Worldly Country
, Ecco Press (New York, NY), 2007.

Notes from the Air: Selected Later Poems
, Ecco Press (New York, NY), 2007.

Collected Poems, 1956-1987
, Library of America, No. 187 (New York, NY), 2008

Planisphere - New Poems
, Ecco Press (New York, NY), 2009.

The Recital /Le Récital, a prose poem by John Ashbery, bilingual edition in a French translation by Franck André Jamme, Ergo Pers, 2009. 40 copies. For this limited edition, Hanns Schimansky created a series of five etchings and a front cover etching.

In the late 1950s, the critic John Bernard Myers categorized the common traits of Ashbery's avant-garde poetry, as well as that of Kenneth Koch, Frank O'Hara, James Schuyler, Barbara Guest, Kenward Elmslie and others, as constituting a "New York School." Ashbery then wrote two collections while in France, the highly controversial The Tennis Court Oath (1962), and Rivers and Mountains (1966), before returning to New York to write The Double Dream of Spring, which was published in 1970. In the endnotes to The Double Dream of Spring Ashbery himself explained that the title was borrowed from one of de Chirico's paintings. Ashbery uses disjointed narrative and descriptive fragments as deliberate interruptions in his poems, like elements in a collage. Among these we can spot a clearly defined group whose inspiration seems to have been the characteristic iconographic catalogue of the Italian painter and poet Giorgio de Chirico, co-founder of the school of Pittura Metafisica and precursor of surrealism. His literary work has already been related to Ashbery's, regarding the likeness of the prose in Three Poems and de Chirico's novel Hebdomeros.




Translator, from the French, of the works of Raymond Roussel, Andre Breton, Pierre Reverdy, Arthur Cravan, Max Jacob, Alfred Jarry, Antonin Artaud, Noel Vexin, Franck André Jamme and others.Jean-Jacques Mayoux,

Melville, by Jean-Jacques Mayoux, translated by Ashbery. New York: Grove/London: Evergreen, 1960.

Murder in Montmartre
, by Noel Vexin, translated by Ashbery (as Jonas Berry, with Lawrence G. Blochman). New York: Dell, 1960.

The Deadlier Sex
, by Geneviève Manceron, translated by Ashbery, as Jonas Berry, and Lawrence G. Blochman. New York: Dell, 1961.

Alberto Giacometti
, by Jacques Dupin, translated by Ashbery. Paris: Maeght Editeur, 1962.

The Dice Cup: Selected Prose Poems, by Max Jacob, edited, with an introduction, by Michael Brownstein, translated by Ashbery and others. New York: SUN, 1979.

Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre, Fantomas, Morrow (New York, NY), 1986 (translator).

Pierre Martory, Every Question but One, Groundwater Press/ InterFlo Editions, 1 1990 (translator).

Selected Poems
, by Pierre Reverdy, translated by Ashbery and others. Newcastle upon Tyne: Bloodaxe, 1991.

The Landscape Is behind the Door
, by Pierre Martory, translated by Ashbery. Riverdale-on-Hudson, NY: Sheep Meadow Press, 1994.
Pierre Martory, The Landscapist, Carcanet Press (Manchester, England), 2008, translated by Ashbery.
In March 1956, Martory met John Ashbery, then on a Fulbright in Paris, where they lived together nine years. In 1962, Ashbery dedicated The Tennis Court Oath to Martory. In 1990, Ashbery translated Martory’s first poetry collection, Every Question but One (Intuflo Editions–Groundwater), and in 1994 Sheep Meadow Press published Martory’s first full-length volume of poetry, The Landscape Is behind the Door. Martory died in Paris on October 5, 1998. In 1994, Artery Editions in England published Oh, lac / Oh, Lake, a bilingual edition of twenty Martory poems, translated by Ashbery, with artwork by Wishart.

How I Wrote Certain of My Books and Other Writings,
by Raymond Roussel, edited by Trevor Winkfield, translated by Ashbery and others, with an introduction by Ashbery. Boston: Exact Change, 1995.
John Ashbery in Conversation with Mark Ford, Dufour Editions (Chester Springs, PA), 2003.

La Récitation de l’oubli, by Franck André Jamme, translated by John Ashbery. Ghent, Ergo Pers, 2009. 40 copies. For this limited edition, Hanns Schimansky created a series of five etchings and a front cover etching.

In addition, there have been many privately printed, small press and fine arteditions, as well as volumes combining several of the above-listed titles.


L I M I T E D    E D I T I O N S






In 1961 a number of portfolios were published in New York that brought together work by some of the most promising younger poets and painters, and Ashbery collaborated with Joan Mitchell on what was called The Poems,
The Poems by Ashbery, prints by Joan Mitchell. New York: Tiber Press, 1960. The Poems by John Ashbery, prints by Joan Mitchell; Permanently by Kenneth Koch, prints by Alfred Leslie; Odes by Frank O’Hara, prints by Michael Goldberg; Salute by James Schuyler, prints by Grace Hartigan. N. Y.: Tiber Press (1960).
200 numbered copies signed by the authors and the artists from a total edition of 225 (the 25 contributors’ copies were not signed).
Each volume includes five original color prints on ivory wove handmade Hahnemühle paper made directly on the screens by the individual artists.

Description of a masque, with watercolor woodblock prints by Jane Freiliche, Limited Editions Club, New York, 1998. "This book was designed and printed by Dan Carr and Julia Ferrari at Golgonooza Letter Foundry & Press in Jannon-Garamond with Weiss titling, in an edition of three hundred. The paper was handmade for this edition at the H.M.P. Mill. The illustrations by Jane Freilicher were printed by Keiji Shinohara on handmade Tosa Hanga paper. This is copy number 95 [signatures] John Ashbery, Jane Freilicher" [Colophon].

The Kaiser's children, text by John Ashbery, images by Eric Stotik. Portland, Charles Seluzicki, 1991. Loose sheets laid into wrap-around folder with gold tassel. 50 numbered copies signed by the author and the artist. Twelve leaves letterpress printed with color-process printed illustrations tipped-in.
Ashbery’s text and Eric Stotik’s images were created separately and without any prior knowledge of this project.

Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, San Francisco:Larry Rivers, The Arion Press, 1983. With original prints by Richard Avedon, Elaine de Kooning, Willem de Kooning, Jim Dine, Jane Freilicher, Alex Katz, and R.B. Kitaj. Each volume includes five original color prints on ivory wove handmade Hahnemühle paper made directly on the screens by the individ ual artists. The paper was specially made in rounds at Twinrocker Mill in Indiana. The 40 text sheets are handset in Cochin type in lines that
radiate as spokes from a hub holding the page number, so that the pages are literally turned to be read.With a recording of Ashbery reading his poem. Prints and record housed in a stainless steel Hollywood movie canister with a convex mirror on the lid. The sound disc (analog, 33 1/3 rpm, mono. ; 12 in.) is enclosed in a square folded sleeve with title: Self-portrait in a convex mirror: the poem read by John Ashbery.

Novel, John Ashbery, Trevor Winkfield. Grenfell Press, New York, 1998.
"Published in an edition of 100 plus 15 artist’s proofs in the spring of 1998. ’Novel’ was written by John Ashbery in 1954; the drawings were made by Trevor Winkfield in 1996-97. The book was set in Walbaum and printed on Somerset paper at The Grenfell Press, and bound by Claudia Cohen. All copies have been signed by the author and the artist" [Colophon].

Apparitions: Poems, by Ashbery, Galway Kinnell, W. S. Merwin, L. M. Rosenberg, and Dave Smith. Northridge, CA: Lord John Press, 1981. 350 copies.

John Ashbery and Hanns Schimansky, The Recital,
Ergo Pers 2009

In 2009-2010 Ergo Pers published a double volume artists' book with John Ashbery, Franck André Jamme and etchings by Hanns Schimansky.
The edition consists of two books:
John Ashbery, The Recital, translated by Franck André Jamme and La Recitation de l’oubli | Les gués, les passes, by Franck André Jamme and translated by John Ashbery.
For both books Hanns Schimansky created a series of five etchings.

John Ashbery, The Recital, translated by Franck André Jamme was published in an edition of 40 copies in December 2009. For this limited edition, Hanns Schimansky created a series of five etchings.











S E L E C T E D   W R I T I N G S   O N   A R T   A N D   O T H E R   W R I T I N G S


Joe Brainard : A Retrospective
Joe Brainard: A Retrospective


































Folder, Vol 1#1. Winter 1953. (limited printing of 500 printed copies). Three original silk screen prints by George Hartigan. Poetry by Frank O’Hara, Sandra Wool, John Ashbery, Edwin Treitler, Alexander Randolph, Daisy Aldan, George Hartigan, James Merrill, Leon Hecht, Jean Garrigue, Kenneth Koch and Giorgio Caproni. Playlet by James Schuyler. Short Stories by Frederick English, Giusseppe Patroni Griffi, Robert Hellman, and William Fense Weaver. [1]

The American Literary Anthology, selected by Ashbery and others. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1968.

The Avant-garde
, by Ashbery and Thomas B. Hess. New York: Newsweek, 1968; as Avant-garde Art, London: Collier-Macmillan, 1968.

Narrative Art, edited by Ashbery and Thomas B. Hess. New York: Newsweek/Macmillan, 1970. Art News Annual, vol. 36.

The New Spirit
. New York: Adventures in Poetry, 1970. 65 copies.

John Ashbery and Kenneth Koch: (A Conversation). Tucson: Interview Press [between 1965 and 1970].

Academic Ar
t, edited by Ashbery and Thomas B. Hess. London: Collier-Macmillan, 1971.

John Ashbery, Lee Harwood, Tom Raworth. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1971. Penguin Modern Poets, no. 19.

Light in Art,
edited by Ashbery and Thomas B. Hess. New York: Collier Books, 1971.

Painterly Paintings
, edited by Ashbery and Thomas B. Hess. New York: Macmillan, 1971.

A Nest of Ninnies,
by Ashbery and James Schuyler. New York: Dutton, 1969; Manchester: Carcanet, 1987.
The idea for this collaborative novel came to Schuyler on a drive from the Hamptons into New York City in 1952. At first, working together, Schuyler and Ashbery came up with alternating lines, but this method became too problematic, and had to be abandoned when Ashbery went to Europe in 1955. Eventually, the two poets began composing longer passages alone, but the attempt to continue the collaboration by correspondence proved unsatisfactory. The "hand-made quality" of the work suffered, and it was only completed after the two men were reunited in New York ten years later. "The style of arch ventriloquism that Ashbery and Schuyler adopted in A Nest of Ninnies had the virtue of allowing each of the two to escape from his personality, to lose himself in the work. Perhaps the most extraordinary thing about A Nest of Ninnies is that the two poets have dissolved their own personalities and merged so entirely into a common style that it can be said that the book's author is neither Ashbery nor Schuyler but a third entity fashioned in the process of collaboration. They had transformed a game into a form of literary creation." - Lehman, The Last Avant-Garde (NY: Doubleday, 1998), p. 82.
Lit. The Making of John Ashbery and James Schuyler’s A Nest of Ninnies, John Ashbery, Context N°22

Kenward Elmslie, Kenneth Koch, James Schuyler, edited by Ashbery. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1974. Penguin Modern Poets no. 24.

Fairfield Porter: Realist Painter in an Age of Abstraction
, with essays by Ashbery and Kenworth Moffett. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1982. Exhibition catalog.

Kitaj: Paintings, Drawings, Pastels
, by Ashbery and others. New York: Thames & Hudson, 1983.

The Ice storm. Madras, New York, Hanuman Books, 1987. Hanuman Books are published & edited by Raymond Foye & Francesco Clemente.

The Best American Poetry, 1988, edited by Ashbery. New York: Macmillan, 1988.

Hebdomeros, with Monsieur Dudron’s Adventure and Other Metaphysical Writings, by Giorgio de Chirico, translated by Ashbery and others, with an introduction by Ashbery. Cambridge, MA: Exact Change, 1992.

Ellsworth Kelly : plant drawings
, essay by John Ashbery, New York, N.Y. : Matthew Marks Gallery, 1992. An exhibition catalogue of line drawings of plants executed by Ellsworth Kelly in graphite and ink on paper from 1960 to 1992. This catalogue was published to accompany Ellsworth Kelly’s first solo exhibition at Matthew Marks Gallery, Plant Drawings at 1018 Madison Avenue in 1992.

Other Traditions, Harvard University Press, 2000
Ashbery explores here the work of six writers he often finds himself reading "in order to get started" when writing, poets he turns to as "a poetic jump-start for times when the batteries have run down." Among those whom John Ashbery reads at such times are John Clare, Thomas Lovell Beddoes, Raymond Roussel, John Wheelwright, Laura Riding, and David Schubert.

The Vermont Notebook, by John Ashbery and Joe Brainard, Granary Books/ Z Press. A mélange of Ashbery’s writing and Brainard’s drawings.

Joe Brainard : A Retrospective, University of California, Berkeley Art Museum, and Granary Books in association with Mandeville Special Collections Library, University of California, San Diego, 2001.
This book documents the retrospective exhibition organized by the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum. Senior curator Lewallan provides an overview of Brainard's life and work, and Ashbery and Ratcliff, art critics, offer essays on Brainard's style.

They knew what they wanted, Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York, 2008. Published on the occasion of an exhibition held at Tibor de Nagy Gallery from September 4 to October 4, 2008.
Ashbery has written eloquently about collagists (Anne Ryan and Kurt Schwitters among others), as well as used collage in his poetry. Ashbery also made collages at four different periods in his life, with the earliest dating from the late ’40s.


was literary and art magazine published in New York in the early 1950’s.During the 1950s, New Yorker Daisy Aldan (1918-2001), poet and renegade publisher, gained notice for her revolutionary translation of enigmatic French Symbolist poet Stéphane Mallarmé. She founded Tiber Press in 1953, publishing her own work and that of Village poets such as John Ashbery, Frank O’Hara, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, James Schuyler, as well as the artwork of Jackson Pollack, Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Joan Mitchel, Larry Rivers, Robert Motherwell, and Grace Hartigan. Her Folder Magazine was for years a home to the work of then-unknown artists whose careers in many cases became stellar. Although a recipient of many awards and Pulitzer Prize nominations, Aldan’s own career never achieved the heights of some who filled Folder Magazine’s pages. To support herself, she worked as a teacher at New York’s prestigious High School of Art and Design, where her presence became an institution.

Porter, Fairfield (1907-1975) | Fairfield Porter was born near Chicago in 1907, Bisexual artist, art critic, and poet Fairfield Porter is recognized as a major twentieth-century American Intimist painter, whose body of work features lyrical depictions of everyday life and portraits of family members and friends, in the manner of the late-nineteenth-century French artists Édouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard, whose paintings Porter greatly admired.



David K. Kermani. John Ashbery: A Comprehensive Bibliography, Including His Art Criticism and with Selected Notes from Unpublished Materials. New York: Garland, 1976.

    Martory died in Paris on October 5, 1998. Most recently, Artery Editions in England published Oh, lac / Oh, Lake, a bilingual edition of twenty Martory poems, translated by Ashbery, with artwork by Wishart.
    The New York School of Painters" was a label for the work of abstract expressionists such as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell and Franz Kline. Part joke, part assertion of New World supremacy over the School of Paris, it proved effective in promoting the innovations of post-war New York artists to national and international audiences. The term "The New York School of Poets" was first used in 1961. The poets were all deeply embroiled in the art world as curators (O'Hara worked for over a decade at the Museum of Modern Art), editors and critics (Ashbery, Schuyler and Koch). They worked closely with Fairfield Porter, Larry Rivers, Helen Frankenthaler, Nell Blaine, Jane Freilicher and Grace Hartigan, among many others. "New York poets," Schuyler commented in 1959, "except I suppose the colour blind, are affected most by the floods of paint in whose crashing surf we all scramble." The poets themselves kept their distance from the rhetoric that corralled them together.
"We were," Ashbery said in his Paris Review interview of 1983, "a bunch of poets who happened to know each other; we would get together and read our poems to each other and sometimes we would write collaborations." Unlike the Surrealists or the Language Movement poets, they never set out in any programmatic way to revolutionize society or consciousness: the only programme their work might be said to fulfil is the resolute determination to be unprogrammatic. Only O'Hara is, properly speaking, a New York poet, finding the city entirely adequate. "One need never leave the confines of New York," he wrote in a prose poem, "to get all the greenery one wishes - I can't even enjoy a blade of grass unless I know there's a subway handy, or a record store or some other sign that people do not totally regret life." The others explore a wider geography, though New York remains their multum in parvo. The poetry they were writing ran counter to the New Critical orthodoxies of the day: they formed each other's only initial audiences.
They took to collaborating: in 1952 Ashbery and Schuyler embarked on A Nest of Ninnies, a comedy of manners composed mainly in alternate sentences; Ashbery and Koch wrote poems together, including a sestina whose every line includes the name of a flower, a tree, a fruit, a game, a famous old lady, and the word bathtub. Koch and O'Hara particularly relished poetic jousts, and composed their first long poems ("When the Sun Tries to Go On" and "Second Avenue") in a kind of competitive dialogue with each other. The long poem was for the New York poets, as for Keats, "the Polar Star of Poetry". In his introduction to O'Hara's "Collected Poems" Ashbery describes O'Hara's evolution of "big, airy structures unlike anything previous in American poetry and indeed unlike poetry, more like the inspired ramblings of a mind open to the point of distraction." Certainly the long poems of Ashbery, O 'Hara, Koch and Schuyler offer an extraordinary fusion of excess and insouciance, of artifice and the aleatory, but in this, it might be argued, they continue within the parameters established by American poetry's primary epic of inclusion, Whitman's "Song of Myself".