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Matthew Zapruder with thirty reasons why John Ashbery might be the greatest living American poet.

Come On All You Ghosts

So recently I have been involved in two separate conversations (one at a Q and A, another in correspondence) about John Ashbery, in which I strongly have contended that he is our greatest living poet. I feel his greatness is, to some extent, cumulative (see the letter below in which I make this point in somewhat confused yet ardent detail), but I also believe that he has written a sizeable number of what I would consider “great” fine isolated poems. So in order to demonstrate this point, I have selected 30 poems, with links below.

A few notes (from the air). First, the bias is heavily towards poems from the first 3 decades of his career. It seems to me there are more truly great single lyric poems from that time period, than from the next several decades (a body of work in my mind at least equal to the…

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