Poetry News

New John Ashbery Reading Library to Open at Harvard

By Harriet Staff

In tandem with Ann Lauterbach and Dara Wier's reading at the Woodberry Poetry Room last Thursday, curator Christina Davis announced that John Ashbery's complete library had been donated to the space. Harvard Crimson reporter Isabel C. Ruehl explains that the Poetry Room is where "Ashbery delivered his first poems as an undergraduate in the 1940s" and that, "[t]his month, the cataloging of six- to seven-thousand manuscripts, papers, and books will commence, slated for completion in 2020." Lauterbach and Wier were close friends with Ashbery. Picking up from there: 

Christina Davis, the Woodberry Poetry Room’s curator, made this announcement on Thursday, Nov. 1 in an introduction to a reading by acclaimed American poets Ann Lauterbach and Dara Wier, both of whom knew Ashbery throughout his career.

“I learned that they were all dear friends at this memorial service [in Dec. 2017],” Davis said. “When I was trying to find a meaningful way to make this announcement, it seemed like the legacy of his friendship would be the perfect portal through which to announce it.”

Previously stored at his homes in Chelsea and Hudson, NY, the comprehensive collection of Ashbery’s works is what Davis describes as “the 20th century iteration of what a poet’s library could be.” Already, Houghton is home to the Emily Dickinson library, to which Davis pointed as an exemplary collection of a 19th century poet. The Ashbery library, she says, will be an immersive experience: For example, visitors of the Woodberry Poetry Room will even be able to sit at Ashbery’s own writing desk.

Ashbery’s poetry triangulates well with Lauterbach and Wier, Davis added. “For both of these poets, his death is still very raw.”

Learn more about the event and about the Ashbery Reading Library at the Harvard Crimson.

Originally Published: November 9th, 2018