Things did not occur by themselves. Working as a team, Whitman paved the way, also taken by Frost and explored by Pound. Eliot built the wall that the Beat Generation managed to demolish, picking from the road the dead leaves of tradition. The Confessionalists, such as Stevens, proposed a way out from under caves or old traditions.
J.A: Within the framework of the “three kinds of poetry” of Ezra Pound, I would like to know if you agree with some critics who rated your work under the concept of “Logopoeia”. In that sense: Are this “three kinds…” considered relevant in the context and emergence of contemporary poetry?
John ASHBERY: I know what Pound’s three kinds of poetry are, but frankly I have never been a great reader of Pound and the three terms strike me as somewhat arbitrary. I suppose that Logopoeia probably fits my poetry better than the other two, and yes I would consider them “relevant in the context and emergence of contemporary poetry.”
J.A: As a translator of Rimbaud’s Illuminations, I would like you to tell us how you lived that experience. Also, taking into account your own knowledge and affection for this poet… What were the reasons that led you to work with him?
John ASHBERY I have lived with Rimbaud’s poetry since I was a teenager, though at that time my French was very limited and I had to read him in translation. I had always thought I’d try to translate the Illuminations, and in fact had done the first one, “Après le déluge,” a number of years ago. The stimulus that finally got me working on the book was a generous offer from a publisher to do so, and a chronic shortage of cash.]
J.A: From your own life experiences and projects, have you encountered obstacles to become a poet?
John ASHBERY: That, in fact, is the main obstacle to becoming a poet that I’ve encountered. Unlike other artists: painters, novelists, etc., a poet can never expect to earn enough money to live on from his work, and always has to have a “day job,” most often teaching. I have been a teacher and also an art critic to earn a living, and while these occupations can be agreeable, I can’t say that I would have taken them up if I had not had to do so.
J.A: As a poetry writer, I would like to ask: Do you think there are new forms and roads that still have not been explored and adopted in poetry?
John ASHBERY: I certeainly hope there are “new forms and roads that still have not been explores and adopted in poetry”. I´m sure ther are, but we will just have to wait and see to find out.
J.A: Finally… Could you tell us if you are working on something new at this moment?
John ASHBERY: I’m still writing poetry, one poem at a time. When I feel there are enough I will probably put them together in a book, which has been my practice in the past. I appreciate very much your interest in me and my writing. It’s an honor to know that I have interested readers in Buenos Aires.
In the conformity that literary criticism finds in talking about «schools», a clear homology between the parts can be found. But each one of them, besides being individual, actually exceeds their limits: consider the oriental influences in Kenneth Rexroth’s poetry—which in turn greatly influenced that of the Beatniks— to undermine the apparent «communities (not just one community) of the pluralist scenario of contemporary poetry in the United States».
None of this happens without men, those strangers…
Concerning the rest of American literature, to avoid disorderliness, John Ashbery represents the maximum exponent of the New York School, the «last» stop of the road taken.
Far from imposing a following of his work, the questions deal with the very same which we cannot find in his poems; that is, in what takes place in the search for the name of the castle.
Nonetheless, Ashbery answers as a man, from his experience, and for him it is «an honor to know that I have interested readers in Buenos Aires».
Since no castle can stand in the air, our appreciation for these words goes also to Eleanor Crawforth (Carcanet Press), who, working in tandem, made the meeting with John possible.
 Reference to a verse from Hotel Lautréamont: “They didn’t just happen”.
∇ Introduction & interview by Juan Arabia. — Buenos Aires Poetry N°1.