Brink Road

A. R. Ammons, Author
A. R. Ammons, Author W. W. Norton & Company $23 (0p) ISBN 978-0-393-03958-0
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-393-31597-4
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At the end of Brink Road is ""Summer Place,"" a 45-page piece written in narrative triplets. While the jacket copy, like a warning sign, declares that this poem ""unfolds the quotidian events of the poet's summer vacation,"" there is, fortunately, enough humor and sarcasm to make it fun. When this cranky and multiple award-winning poet/professor finds himself with nothing to do during a long July, he turns to self-effacement, colleague bashing (""John Hollander who knows so much about the art of/ poetry you wouldn't understand a thing he said"") and undelighted, lecherous observations (""...coeds with the pear-like rondure/ sloping the dinky-little bicycle seats/ wouldn't it be fun to be leather...). The real problem with Ammons's latest trek is the 152 shorter works that line the way to ""Summer Place."" Often minimalist and obsessed with paradox, these poems are skeletons, their lines stacked like vertebrae (""where then do I/ belong: your/ belonging/ is to belong nowhere:/ what am I/ to be"") or ribs of pastoral wonderment (""A shaded branch will through etiolation stretch, even though it has/ little sun to stretch with, to get into the sun"").They tease the brain but rarely engage the heart. (July)
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