Writers House welcomes acclaimed poet John Ashbery

Throughout its 14 years, the Kelly Writers House Fellows program has welcomed such literary luminaries as Tony Kushner, David Sedaris, Jamaica Kincaid, and Joan Didion, but only one Fellow has been invited back a second time: celebrated poet John Ashbery.

Ashbery visited Penn in 2002 as a Writers House Fellow, and is returning on Monday, Feb. 11, and Tuesday Feb. 12, to share his literary excellence with University students and the public.

"John Ashbery is so eminent and important that it's fitting that he's the only one we feel we need to see again," says Al Filreis, faculty director of Kelly Writers House.

Ashbery, 85, will meet with students in the Writers House Fellows seminar taught by Filreis. Ashbery will read from his works before a reservations-only audience at Writers House on Feb. 11 at 6:30 p.m. This reading is closed.

On Feb. 12 at noon, Ashbery will attend a private Writers House brunch followed by a one-hour public interview/conversation. Reservations for the Tuesday program should be directed to Lily Applebaum at whfellow@writing.upenn.edu.

Both programs will be streamed live on the web on KWH-TV.

"John Ashbery is, in the opinion of most, the most important living American poet," Filreis says. "His influence is huge and his art is difficult but also generous. He keeps us thinking."

The author of more than 25 books of poetry, Ashbery is also a celebrated French poetry translator. His early work is associated with the “New York School” of poets of the 1950s and 1960s. His latest book, “Quick Question: New Poems,” was published in 2012. Other recent poetry collections include “A Worldly Country” from 2007 and “Planisphere,” published in 2009.

Ashbery has won nearly every major American award for poetry. In 1984, he was awarded the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize for “A Wave. For the 1975 work “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror,” he received three of the most prestigious awards in the field: the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the National Book Award.

The Fellows Program offers young and aspiring writers an opportunity to interact with eminent authors, writers, and poets. Author and The New Yorker contributor Janet Malcolm will visit Writers House from March 18-19, and writer and director Rodrigo García will visit from April 22-23.

Current and past Fellow biographies, archived readings, and webcasts are available at the Writers House website.

John Ashbery