John Ash (writer)

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John Ash
Born (1948-06-29) 29 June 1948 (age 70)
Occupation poet, writer, travel writer
Nationality English
Period 1978–present

John Ash (born 29 June 1948) is an expatriate British poet and writer.

His lifelong interest in Byzantium (especially its architecture) is a major theme which runs through his poetry, fiction and travel writing, along with family friends and the three major cities he has lived in. As well as his books (largely published by Carcanet), his work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Village Voice, The Washington Post and Paris Review.


John Ash was born in Manchester, England in 1948, the son of schoolteachers. With a brief break to attend the University of Birmingham (B.A. 1969) and to take a post-graduation year in Cyprus, he remained in the city of his birth until 1985.[1] In the notes to his first book, a sequence titled Casino, Ash remarked that it had grown "out of several years of research for another project - a prose work which was to have been called "The Mauve Book: In Praise of Decadence". He also noted that titles of some sections and the over-all structure had a musical analogy. Musical references continued in the books he published while still in England.

Moving to New York in 1985, Ash became associated with the New York School of poets and formed a strong and lasting friendship with its leading proponent, John Ashbery. After stints teaching at the University of Iowa and the University of California, Berkeley, he moved to Istanbul in 1996, where he has lived since, first teaching at Boğaziçi University, before moving to Kadir Has University.

During this time several of his books, including Selected Works and To the City, have appeared in Turkish translations, published by Yapi Kredi Publications, who are affiliated with the bank of the same name. Deluxe editions of The Anitolikon, published in a side-by-side English and Turkish edition by Yapi Kredi, featured illustrations by Peter Hristoff, a noted Turkish artist of Bulgarian Christian origin living in New York.

In a review of To The City, Poetry Magazine said that John Ash "could be the best English poet of his generation".[2] In 2007 he was profiled in The Economist in an article by Hugh Pope, himself an author and formerly the Wall Street Journal correspondent in Istanbul. Pope has suggested that Ash is the leading light in a new "Istanbul School" of English-speaking poets taking their inspiration from the city.[3]

Following Byzantine Journey, and other travel writing, Ash led tours the relevant sites and in 2006 wrote the script for the documentary "Istanbul for Aficionados".[4] He has also appeared in a BBC guide to Istanbul, broadcast in 2005 on BBC Four's "Mediterranean Tales" strand.[5]







His work has also appeared in a number of anthologies, including:



  1. Head, Dominic (2006). The Cambridge Guide to Literature in English. Cambridge University Press. p. 46. ISBN 0-521-83179-2. 
  2. Review: In the City, Poetry
  3. A Byzantine journey, Hugh Pope, The Economist, 15 February 2007
  4. Istanbul's First Guidebook Documentary
  5. Mediterranean Tales: Istanbul

External links