A. R. Ammons: Selected Poems

A. R. Ammons, Author, David Lehman, Editor
A. R. Ammons, Author, David Lehman, Editor Library of America $20 (130p) ISBN 978-1-931082-93-8
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Ammons (1926-2001) was a difficult figure to pin down. While unassociated with any particular poetic school or group, he picked up threads from Whitman, Williams, Frost and Stevens, weaving them into poetry all his own: equal parts pastoral meditation, philosophical speculation and homespun resignation. In the process, he won nearly every honor a major American poet can. Now, in the first selection to present samplings from the whole of his oeuvre (which ranges from two-line lyrics to book-length sequences), we can survey the extent is his poetic powers. Speaking like an earthy philosopher, Ammons renders vivid portrayals of man's interaction with nature (""...seedheads crushed by tires/.../ so many seeds, and not one will make a/ tree""), yielding humbling metaphysical observations: ""...wind doesn't whistle, brother! brother!"" The same mischievously sobering sensibility offers clipped, humorous takes on interpersonal relations, as in the six word gem ""Their Sex Life"": ""One failure on/ Top of Another"". In this small volume-the 20th in The Library of America's American Poets Project series-Lehman, poet and editor of the annual Best American Poetry anthologies, succeeds in giving a sense of Ammons' range and major themes, while pointing the reader toward Ammons' original books, which deserve to be read from cover to cover.
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