David Kermani was born in Albany, NY in 1946. He received a BA from Brown University (American Civilization), and an MA (Middle East Languages and Cultures) and MLS (specializing in archival management) from Columbia University. He was Director of the Tibor de Nagy Gallery in New York from 1977 until 1982, when he joined his family’s oriental rug business in upstate NY. Soon after meeting John Ashbery in 1970, he began work on a comprehensive bibliography of Ashbery’s work, including his writing about art, which was published in 1976; he has managed Ashbery’s business affairs for many years. He has been on the Board of Friends of Olana (now The Olana Partnership), serving as Treasurer, Vice-President, and President. Along with Dara Wier, James Tate and Ashbery, he was a founding member of The Flow Chart Foundation in 1998, helping to develop the Ashbery Resource Center and its online catalogue as a continuation of the earlier bibliography, and the “Created Spaces” concepts.
Dara Wier was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and raised south of New Orleans in Naomi, Louisiana near the mouth of the Mississippi River. Her thirteen books include the In the Still of the Night, You Good Thing, and Reverse Rapture, awarded The Poetry Center and American Poetry Archives Book Award in 2006. Fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and Massachusetts Cultural Council and Lannan Foundation Fellowship have supported her work. Her poems are included in the Pushcart Prize and Best American Poetry anthologies. Limited editions include (X In Fix) and The Usual Ratio Between Banality and Wonder in Rain Taxi’s Brainstorm series. With James Tate, she rescued The Lost Epic of Arthur Davidson Ficke: The Author’s Annotations, Commentary, and Note of Reference for a Millennium’s Teardrop. She's held the Richard Hugo Chair at the University of Montana, and The Louis Rubin Chair at Hollins University and been a poet-in-residence at University of Texas, Emory University and the University of Utah; she served as the Associated Writing Program's President in the early 1980s. She is a member of the University of Massachusetts Amherst poetry faculty, director and co-founder of the Juniper Initiative for literary arts and action and the Juniper Summer Institute and Workshops, editor and publisher of factory hollow press and publisher of the literary journal jubilat, she lives and works in North Amherst, Massachusetts.
A cofounder, with the poet Rosanne Wasserman, of the nonprofit Groundwater Press, Eugene Richie is Director of Creative Writing in the Pace University English Department, in New York. He has published five collections of poems and three books of translations, as well as articles and reviews, on translation and on the work of poets James Schuyler, John Ashbery, Charles North, Ron Padgett, Paul Violi, Gerrit Henry, Ed Barrett, and Forrest Gander. His poems and translations have been set to music by Russian composer Anton Rovner and American composers Tom Cipullo and Nathan Jones. He has edited Ashbery’s Selected Prose (University of Michigan Press / Carcanet, 2004) and, with Wasserman and Olivier Brossard, three bilingual collections of Pierre Martory’s poems, translated by Ashbery: The Landscape Is behind the Door (Groundwater, 1990); Oh, Lake / Oh, lac (Artery Editions, 2008); and The Landscapist (Sheep Meadow / Carcanet, 2008), a London Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation and a National Book Critics Circle Award poetry finalist. With Wasserman, he also edited Ashbery’s Collected French Translations (Farrar, Straus and Giroux / Carcanet, 2014), a London Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation and a finalist for the Poetry Foundation Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism.
Jeffrey Lependorf—Executive Director
An accomplished musician and composer, visual artist, and nonprofit arts professional, Jeffrey Lependorf previously served as Executive Director of the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses, Development Director of the Creative Capital Foundation, and Vice President of Development for Bette Midler’s New York Restoration Project. He currently also serves as Executive Director of Small Press Distribution, as well as directs the Art Omi: Music international musicians residency program, which he created. He received his undergraduate degree from Oberlin Conservatory, and his masters and doctorate degrees from Columbia University, where he also taught for a number of years. He was named a national artist leader by National Arts Strategies, participating in their prestigious Chief Executives Program. For more information, visit jeffreylependorf.com.
I like the integrity of what you have to say,
drama or dream. What is credibility
without assertiveness, endurance without skepticism?
And the abrupt thrust of your bearing
at me under a low-hanging branch.
What shall any of these do without skeletons
as ideas? I hear the tango beginning,
the waltz that is loss. Crossed logs in the chimney . . .
Without aggressiveness, hope, I couldn’t conquer any of it.
There’d be no piece of it to bring back to you,
saying, “this is me.” A lie
among others we’re exposed to. And when the needle finally swung
it was wrapped in rags, in pitch blackness.
I escaped from the dream of living
into a fairy tale with no happy ending, no ending at all,
only bedtime to live ever after.
You could climb a fence amid barberries
and never see the departing smile on the swan’s face.
Only your need will be redeemed
when you dwell again among us, much misunderstood.
For now your glass prayer encases both of us.
— from And the Stars Were Shining (© 1994 Estate of John Ashbery. All rights reserved. Used by arrangement with Georges Borchardt, Inc.)
It is difficult to separate the tapestry
From the room or look which takes precedence over it.
For it must always be frontal and yet to one side.
It insists on the picture of “history”
In the making, because there is no way out of the punishment
It proposes: sight blinded by sunlight.
The seeing taken in with what is seen
In an explosion of sudden awareness of its formal splendor.
The eyesight, seen as inner,
Registers over the impact of itself
Receiving phenomena, and in so doing
Draws an outline, or a blueprint,
Of what was just there: dead on the line.
If it has the form of a blanket, that is because
We are eager, all the same, to be wound in it:
This must be the good of not experiencing it.
But in some other life, which the blanket depicts anyway,
The citizens hold sweet commerce with one another
And pinch the fruit unpestered, as they will,
As words go crying after themselves, leaving the dream
Upended in a puddle somewhere
As though “dead” were just another adjective.
— from As We Know (© 1979 Estate of John Ashbery. All rights reserved. Used by arrangement with Georges Borchardt, Inc.)