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from the September 2018 issue

Alms for the Versemaker: An International Appreciation of John Ashbery

On September 3, 2017, the world lost John Ashbery, the pivotal American poet whom the New York Times hailed as "a tradition unto himself." On this, the first anniversary of his death, Words Without Borders pays tribute to this giant of American letters with work from three poets and translators working across varied languages and literary traditions. Fady Joudah contributes "The Poem as Epiphyte," a poem in conversation with Ashbery's poetics; poet Hiroaki Sato (whom Gary Snyder has called "perhaps the finest translator of contemporary Japanese poetry into American English") reminisces about his collaborations with Ashbery, including the translation of the American poet's work into Japanese; and Uruguayan poet Roberto Echavarren, a personal friend of Ashbery and translator of his work into Spanish, considers what set Ashbery apart and his legacy vis-à-vis other poets, not only those from the US but abroad. May these "delicious few words spread around like jam" provide a fitting tribute to a true original who lives on through his work. 

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