Rediscover: Self-portrait in a Convex Mirror

John Ashbery, a major figure of late-20th and early-21st-century American poetry and the only writer to ever win the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award in the same year, died on September 3 at age 90. The New Yorker's poetry critic Dan Chiasson called Ashbery the "greatest American poet of the last fifty years. His early work was serene and beautiful; he then became rather frantic and trippy. He had a period of majesty unrivaled in recent poetry, stretching from the seventies through the nineties. His last phase was a kind of inventory of his mind, among the most interesting anyone has ever known."

Ashbery earned his literary triple crown with Self-portrait in a Convex Mirror (1975), whose titular poem takes its name from a painting by Italian Mannerist Parmigianino. Ashbery's other collections include Some Trees (1956), The Tennis Court Oath (1962), Houseboat Days (1977), The Mooring of Starting Out (1997), Notes from the Air (2007), Quick Question (2012) and Commotion of the Birds (2016), among many others. His avant-garde, often opaque and somewhat surreal style, with plenty of wordplay and humor, has earned Ashbery a central place in the chronicles of American poetry. Self-portrait in a Convex Mirror was last published in 1990 by Penguin Books ($20, 9780140586688). --Tobias Mutter

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