The Ashbery Home School

                                         To flash light
Into the house within, its many chambers,
Its memories and associations, upon its inscribed
And pictured walls, argues enough that life is various.
Life is beautiful.

— John Ashbery, “Houseboat Days”

Ever wished you could visit John Ashbery’s much-discussed, meticulously-designed Victorian house in upstate New York, spend a week working on your writing under the guidance of some terrific poets, while hearing Ashbery and other poets read their work? Then there’s a new one-week writers’ retreat with your name on it.

In August 2014, the “Ashbery Home School” — founded by poets Timothy Donnelly, Adam Fitzgerald, and Dorothea Lasky — will convene for the first time.  Here’s how the program is described on their website:

The Ashbery Home School of Hudson, New York is a one-week writers’ retreat from August 10th to August 15th, 2014 which welcomes poets who seek to redefine their practice through a radical consideration of the other arts—music, cinema, the visual arts, dance as well as other media. Featuring daily workshops, guest seminars & readings by visiting poets and nightly film screenings, AHS is a concentrated, unique engagement between poetry and the arts in the historic setting of Hudson, New York.

The 2014 faculty will include Timothy Donnelly, Adam Fitzgerald and Dorothea Lasky. Visiting poets and scholars: John Ashbery, Mary Jo Bang, Tom Healy, Robert Polito, Karin Roffman and Dara Wier.”

As the site notes, Ashbery’s carefully curated home in Hudson, New York, has received a great deal of attention recently (a phenomenon I’ve posted about before here and here), and the program seeks to make extensive use of the house as a site for creative inspiration and inquiry.

“The key resource and inspiration of the Ashbery Home School is John Ashbery’s 19th-century Hudson residence, a carefully composed collage-environment the poet has constructed and curated over thirty-five years with an eclectic array of fine art by European and American masters, furniture, pottery, textiles, bric-a-brac, toys, and other objects—all organized in an architecturally-distinguished setting.

The house features works by artists Ashbery has counted among his intimate friends and those he has paid homage to as critic, many of whom have subtly influenced his poetry. Scholars and critics increasingly acknowledge the inspirational role that environments play in Ashbery’s creative process, looking to the Hudson house, which some consider to be his most ambitious and fully-realized artwork, for insight into how he uniquely populates his spaces, poetry and collages with things intended to trigger and reflect his imagination. Student poets are invited to discover the breadth of Ashbery’s personal collections, spanning some eight decades as central to the unique program of study at The Ashbery Home School.

The Hudson House has been the feature of numerous academic classes, scholarly articles, artistic collaborations as well as a featured historical exhibition (Fall 2013) at the Loretta Howard Gallery in Chelsea, New York entitled ‘John Ashbery Collects: Poets Among Things’ (curated by Emily Skillings and Adam Fitzgerald). Since 2012, the Hudson House has been the intense study of an ongoing graduate seminar in the Writing Program of The New School, co-taught by Robert Polito,  Irwin Chen, Tom Healy and Adam Fitzgerald. Artworks include ‘Heavenly Days,’ a collaboration between Archie Rand and John Ashbery which adapts lines by the Ashbery poem of the same title, matched with select renderings by Rand of the Hudson house interiors. In the summer of 2008, Rain Taxi featured a special web symposium ‘A Dream Of This Room: A Created Spaces Portfolio of Works on John Ashbery’s Textual and Domestic Environments.'”

I believe that today is the last day to apply without a fee.  You can find out more information about applying here.

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