On Friday, April 1 -- simultaneously April Fool's Day and the first day of National Poetry Month -- the New York Library Association did its best to prove that April is not the cruelest month of yore. In Albany, which remains the state capital despite rampant rumors that New York is the one state in the union devoid of such, the librarians gathgered to induct worthy writers into the New York State Writers' Hall of Fame. Among the inductees who were unable to attend were Lorraine Hansberry, Dorothy Parker, Willa Cather, and Ralph Ellison. Herman Melville was represented by his great great grandson who failed to utter the one sentence that the occasion called for. (Asked to say a few words, he didn't say, "I would prefer not to.") Copies of books by the honored authors -- including John Ashbery's Planisphere -- were presented by grantees to the poet, who graciously autographed the books. Dinner featured dauntingly thick cuts of prime rib. A chainsaw would have come in handy. Ashbery was inducted into the poets' equivalent of the shrine to baseball in Cooperstown, NY. as dessert (chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream) and coffee were served. David Lehman had the honor of delivering trhe speech culminating in the induction. "It is true of Ashbery, as of very few other poets, that he thinks naurally in poetry," Lehman said. "If verse were a team sport he would be borne on the shoulders of his victorious mates as the stadium erupted in cheers."