Ashbery is the most well-known poet in recent memory. How he achieved this is somewhat of a mystery, however. His poetry is indecipherable.
In 1977 Ashbery had recently won the National Book Award, the National Book Critics’ Circle Award, and the Pulitzer Prize for his collection, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. Like his cohort in the New York school, Ashbery is given to painterly abstraction and to appropriations of the language of everyday life. His poetry is famously difficult; as he then wrote, “It isn’t absolutely clear.” Here's my review of the Vermont Notebook.