John Ashbery is reading Providence on Wednesday. Last time I heard him read was at an Ivy League College in Northampton Mass. in 1971. The reading was loudly heckled by a member of the jazz-fusion band which had opened for Ashbery, a tall Af-Am sax player in a dashiki, who accused him of escapist effete a-political out-of-touchness. Ashbery responded that he didn't think he was required to write in any particular way. Heckler finally walked out, & I followed him down to the basement cafeteria where he was hanging out with the other band members. Engaged him in some conversation, defended Ashbery etc. in a friendly way. He accused me of being a rich preppy honky who didn't know anything (in a friendly way). We left on good terms. I went back to the reading, & spoke to Ashbery about it, who invited me & a couple friends (who had traveled with me up from Providence) to a party afterward. We went to the party. I remember we sat tongue-tied & in awe at his feet for a while, then he said he had to go make a phone call, & we didn't see him after that.
My Ashbery adventure of 35 yrs ago. That was when he was still The Greatest in my eyes.