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[John Ashbery] says while he still has sympathy for and is attracted to avant-garde art, "I've also always enjoyed more traditional art and poetry. I think there was a false division between abstract art and figurative art for instance. To like one and not the other was always ridiculous. As Schoenberg said sometime in the 1930s, 'there is still a lot of music to be written in the key of C major' and a lot of contemporary composers seem to be trying to write a new kind of music which also can sound traditional. This is kind of what I'd like to do myself. I'd like to write like Tennyson but make it new."

He says when he won the prizes it changed people's perceptions of his work: "They started to think that if they couldn't understand it there was something wrong with them. Then I think some people became a bit resentful and started saying that it's not their fault it was mine. But people without any background in literature began to read my work and I got letters saying they liked it. It was very gratifying. Despite what everyone said, I always thought that there was something simple and penetrable in my poetry screaming to be let out."
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