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MTV’s First Poet Laureate

The New York Times’ Melena Ryzik reports that MtvU, the subsidiary of MTV Networks that is broadcast only on college campuses, will announce today that it has selected its first poet laureate: John Ashbery, the prolific 80-year-old poet and frequent award winner known for his dense, postmodern style and playful language. One of the most celebrated living poets, Ashbery has won MacArthur Foundation and Guggenheim fellowships and was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1976 for his collection SELF-PORTRAIT IN A CONVEX MIRROR.

According to Stephen K. Friedman, the general manager of mtvU, which broadcasts at 750 campuses nationwide, was the No. 1 choice to inaugurate the position. “He resonates with college students that we’ve talked with,” said Friedman. And Ashber was immediately receptive. “It seemed like it would be a chance to broaden the audience for poetry.” But will droves of young people respond? “It’s our hope that we will interest college kids in poetry in a new way, make it hip for them,” said Daniel Halpern, the publisher of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins that has published Ashbery’s work. But, Halpern admitted, “it’ss very hard to tell what exactly is going to come of all this.”

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