Locus Solus: The New York School of Poets

Patti Smith Pays Tribute to John Ashbery at the National Arts Club


If you felt a little cosmic jolt at some point last night, it may have been thanks to the surprise confluence of two brilliant and revered artists in one place and one special moment.

Last night, in New York, John Ashbery was given the National Art Club’s Medal of Honor for Literary Achievement.  Apparently, the rock musician and poet Patti Smith made an unexpected appearance at the event.  She spoke some words in tribute to Ashbery and then performed her song “My Blakean Year” in his honor.

At the end of the song, she even substituted Ashbery’s name for Blake’s (at 3:37):

So throw off your stupid cloak
Embrace all that you fear
For joy will conquer all despair
In my Blakean year
In my Blakean year
In my Ashbery year

Here’s a clip of the performance (posted on YouTube by James Panero):