Arthur Rimbaud, 1854-1891 Arthur Rimbaud was born October 20, 1854. He was the son of an army captain who deserted his family when Arthur was six years old. He attended a provincial school in Charleville, a town in northeastern France, and was a brilliant student until the Franco-Prussian war. It was then Rimbaud turned rebel and fled his home. As a boy, Rimbaud wrote some of the most remarkable poetry of the 19th century. His rhythmic experiments in his prose poems "Illuminations" (1886; eng.trans.,1932) identified him as one of the creators of free verse. Synesthesia, (the description of one sense experience in terms of another), was popularized by his "Sonnet of the Vowels" (1871;Eng. Trans., 1966) where each vowel is assigned a color. After Rimbaud fled his home in July 1870, a year of drifting followed. During this time, he had sent some poems to Paul Verlaine. In 1871, he was invited to Paris where Verlaine rejected him as a drunk. In spite of that, he and Verlaine became lovers and the relationship continued sporadically over two years and formed the core of disillusionment in "A Season in Hell." After the affair ended, Rimbaud abandoned his writing. At the time he was not yet 20 years old. Rimbaud transformed himself becoming a trader and gunrunner in Africa. On November 10, 1891, he died in Marseille following the amputation of his cancerous right leg.
John Ashbery was born on July 28, 1927 in Rochester, New York. He was educated at Harvard and Columbia universities and studied in Europe on a Fulbright Scholarship. Initially wishing to be a painter, then a musician, he has had a variety of careers including reference librarian and art critic. In the early 1950s, he was a copywriter with Oxford University Press and McGraw-Hill. His collection of poems, Turandot and other Poems, published in 1953, established his reputation as one of the leading American poets of his generation. Ashbery feels strongly influenced by film and other art forms. The abstract expressionist movement in art had a profound effect on his writing style. Frequently termed a philosophical poet, Ashbery's poems often deal with the mind and the connection of the reader. Ashbery has published several volumes of poetry, including Houseboat Days and Flow Chart. Highly regarded by critics, he received a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, and a National Book Critics Circle Award in 1976, all for Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. He received the Ambassador Book Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. In 2011, he won the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He also writes under the pseudonym Jonas Berry.