A. R. Ammons by A. R. Ammons
Selected Poems (American Poets Project)

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Synopsis

Meditative, comic, emotionally wrenching, steeped in both the natural world and the life of the mind, the poetry of A. R. Ammons is at once cosmic in scope and intimate in its moment-to-moment transformations. With his mastery of description and cadence, his roiling wit and fearless gaze, Ammons was a philosopher of the everyday who found surprise everywhere he looked. "He is often witty, sometimes bawdy," writes editor David Lehman, "on a perpetual quest to find forms capacious enough for an imagination intent on finding a place for everything."

A compound, in editor David Lehman's words, of "wisdom, pathos, humor, mortal longing, and intimations of immortality," the work of A. R. Ammons is like nothing else in modern American poetry. Ammons's tireless formal invention and restless curiosity about every aspect of nature and of the mind are embodied in poetry that is effortlessly accessible and generous in its impulses. Whether spreading out in the long forms of Tape for the Turn of the Year or Garbage, or honing his perceptions down to the extreme brevity of his shorter lyrics, he holds tight to his vision of the way "all day / life itself is bending, / weaving, changing, / adapting, failing, / succeeding."

This new selection covering the whole range of Ammons's career offers a superb introduction to the pleasures and surprises of his work. His uncanny ability to balance wide-ranging abstract speculation with meticulous observation of natural phenomena, in poetry that encompasses moods of tragic pathos, low comedy, and seemingly casual profundity marks him as one of the preeminent figures in our recent literature
 

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Published April 6, 2006 by Library of America. 130 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for A. R. Ammons

Kirkus Reviews

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This is a collection of poems produced since 1964, the year of Expressions of Sea Level--his second published book, but the first of the group that made his reputation--and it reflects his development since then.

Oct 26 1970 | Read Full Review of A. R. Ammons: Selected Poems ...

Kirkus Reviews

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Take a deep breath before starting this long poem of 155 sections of four tercets punctuated only by colons that thrust the eye forward, deeper into its abstraction, almost faster than the mind can travel: it's cosmology in its own box.

Nov 18 1974 | Read Full Review of A. R. Ammons: Selected Poems ...

Publishers Weekly

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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

Apr 03 2006 | Read Full Review of A. R. Ammons: Selected Poems ...

The New York Times

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The final full-length collection of poems by A. R. Ammons, and essays about him and his work.

May 08 2005 | Read Full Review of A. R. Ammons: Selected Poems ...

Publishers Weekly

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Some of the strong poems in Lehman's always worthwhile annual anthology series include Jorie Graham's ``In the Hotel,'' Mark Doty's ``Difference,'' Lyn Hejinian's ``The Polar Circle,'' J.D.

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Publishers Weekly

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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.

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Publishers Weekly

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the simian ancestries,/ the lapses and leaps, the discovery// of life in the burial of grains."" But what we are subsequently offered is a glorification of the quotidian, bathroom ruminations on snot and other bodily secretions mixed with some curmudgeonly observations on the quest for truth: ""w...

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Publishers Weekly

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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...

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Publishers Weekly

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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

Apr 03 2006 | Read Full Review of A. R. Ammons: Selected Poems ...

London Review of Books

As he put it in Sphere: The Form of a Motion (1974), According to William Rathje and Cullen Murphy, garbage archaeologists with the University of Arizona’s Garbage Project, garbage ‘refers technically to “wet” discards – food remains, yard waste, and offal’, while trash refers to the ‘dry’ stuff ...

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Project MUSE

And especially in the long poems of a more philosophical and abstract orientation, such as "Hibernaculum" or "Sphere," we heard Ammons proposing, in stanzas of four or three lines, theories of our human motions and their analogic relations to the motions of the material universe.

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The Paris Review

Ammons has been slightly out of fashion since his death in 2001—fame, as Emily Dickinson observed, is fickle food—but he was a bracingly intelligent writer, and his relationship to the idea of place is intriguing.

Aug 08 2011 | Read Full Review of A. R. Ammons: Selected Poems ...

The Paris Review

I revise short poems sometimes for years, whereas, since there is no getting lost in the long poem, I engage whatever comes up in the moment and link it with its moment.

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