By Steve Pyke
Gelatin silver print, 2005
Published in the New Yorker, November 7, 2005
Now in his eighty-second year, John Ashbery remains a vital force in American poetry. Although some have branded his work “inaccessible,” others find his poems, with all their ambiguities, to be immensely rewarding. In 2005, when Ashbery published Where Shall I Wander—a collection of his recent work—the New Yorker seized the occasion to profile the poet in an episodic article focusing as much on his method of writing as on the details of his biography. The picture of Ashbery that emerged in that study was as appealing and unpretentious as the photographic portrait Steve Pyke created to accompany it.