Who do you think would win if Robert Lowell and John Ashbery duked it out in a poetry brawl right now? In my opinion, I'd give the upper hand to Ashbery. Mostly because Lowell died in 1977, while Ashbery's still alive and popping out verse like there's no tomorrow, but like I said, it's just my opinion...
From The Economist:
Just as Norman Mailer, John Updike and Philip Roth were at various times regarded as the greatest American novelist since the second world war, John Ashbery and Robert Lowell vied for the title of greatest American poet. Yet the two men could not be more different.
Life, for Lowell, was a serious matter, just as he was a serious man. Mr Ashbery's approach, as evinced by his poetry, is more that of a gentle shrug of amused bewilderment. Unlike Lowell's, his poems are neither autobiographical nor confessional. He doesn't take himself that seriously. “Is all of life a tepid housewarming?” For a poet this is a tougher question to answer than you might think.