John Ashbery is a highly recognized figure in contemporary American Poetry. The last of the so-called New York School of poetry. He has some 24 poetry books that have been published and in the realm measuring success by publication, one is hard pressed to discount is successes.
He has had poetry books published in each of the last six decades.
Deborah Solomon in a New York Times Magazine article posed the possibility that Ashbery may have felt snubbed since he has never been asked to serve as Poet Laureate. But Ashbery himself insisted, "I really don’t think I’m poet-laureate material." He added, " To be poet laureate you have to have a program for spreading the word of poetry. I’m just willing to let it spread by itself."
In earlier biographical material I've read on Ashbery I've noted that he seems to be quite content with a more laid back, less public posture. I can appreciate that the remarks attributed to him in Solomon's article are an honest expression of his view. But I can't help but believe this man, who's work I believe so brilliant, would in fact bring a robust and exciting debate to the
public discussion of contemporary poetry.