Garbage: A Poem

A. R. Ammons, Author
A. R. Ammons, Author W. W. Norton & Company $17.95 (121p) ISBN 978-0-393-03542-1
Paperback - 128 pages - 978-0-393-31203-4
Paperback - 121 pages - 978-0-393-32411-2
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This book-length poem is the second in Ammons's ( Sumerian Vistas ) prolific and distinguished career. In it, 18 sections of meditative free verse range through mortality, nature and our human place in it, as well as through the ordering circuits of poetry and art. At first Ammons declares, ``This is a scientific poem,'' but he means that the reality of our lives and our work is attuned to the natural world in ways measurable and mysterious, as science is to him. Actual garbage, then, is only the starting point he spins away from and returns to in his musings. It is poetry itself that can cast a spell and prevent death: ``I want to get / around to where I can say I'm glad I was here, / even if I must go.'' Sporadically, the writing here is very fine. Ammons is a master of the music inside the conversational; at times, his words take on the momentum of a fugue. But, as he himself reflects, the poet is occasionally unsure of his mission, goal, substance: ``I can hardly think / or think of hardly a thing to say.'' Although Garbage may strike some as too long, in it Ammons sings pure notes among the others that sound less so. (Aug.)
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