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This interview is taken from PN Review 99, Volume 21 Number 1, September - October 1994.

in Conversation with John Ashbery David Herd

The interview took place in John Ashbery's New York apartment on Thursday, 17 February, 1994. We spoke for some three hours on a range of subjects. This is an edited transcript of the conversation.

DAVID HERD: Your poetry is associated with the city but frequently incorporates rural terms and references. Do you feel that the landscapes you encountered as a child have found a way into your poetry?


JOHN ASHBERY: Yes. When I was very small I lived with my grandparents much of the time, in the city, in Rochester, New York, where my grandfather was professor at the university. But when I was seven years old he retired and left that house and moved to the country to a little village where he had grown up, on the edge of Lake Ontario. My parents lived a few miles away on a farm. I always felt a great nostalgia for living in the city, and for that house in particular and for the fact that there were lots of kids to play with, and when I was taken back to the farm I was really quite solitary and lonely for much of the time, except during the summer when I spent much of the time at my grandfather's house. The village was a summer resort and I had a lot of friends there; mostly children whose parents lived in Rochester. I enjoyed very much the lake and the countryside. Somehow the lake which was also close to where my parents lived, which I could see from my window, was a kind of soothing presence. And even ...
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