Brink Road: Poems

Overview

With characteristic economy, A. R. Ammons writes that "Brink Road lies off NY 96 between Candor and Catatonk." This upstate stretch of road provides the title for his new collection, its very name suggesting the sense, found in many of these poems, that we are ever in transition from one state of mind or feeling to another, and always on the edge of revelation. The more than 150 poems in Brink Road date from 1973 to the present and none has previously appeared in book form. They deal with Ammons's lifelong ...
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Overview

With characteristic economy, A. R. Ammons writes that "Brink Road lies off NY 96 between Candor and Catatonk." This upstate stretch of road provides the title for his new collection, its very name suggesting the sense, found in many of these poems, that we are ever in transition from one state of mind or feeling to another, and always on the edge of revelation. The more than 150 poems in Brink Road date from 1973 to the present and none has previously appeared in book form. They deal with Ammons's lifelong concerns with language, mortality, and the beauties and impersonal forces underlying the natural world with the elegance, wit, and ruminative gravity that are his signature qualities as a poet. The concluding work, "Summer Place," is a long poem that demonstrates his mastery of this form as it unfolds the quotidian events of the poet's summer vacation.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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)
Library Journal
Two books, one new, reflecting Ammons's "trademark minimal verse" (LJ 9/1/96).
Donna Seaman
Ammons' last book, "Garbage" 1993, consisted of one wonderful long poem; his newest contains more than 150. This grand collection reflects Ammons' philosophical bent, his balancing act between the metaphysical lyricism of modern ontology and the trickier implications of teleology. Ammons perceives an unassailable connection between nature and the life of the mind, and he writes many traditional, if rarefied, poems about wind, clouds, and trees. His favorite natural form is "curvature" --a shape, force, and metaphor that he uses often. In "A Little Thing like That," for instance, he tells us that he much prefers the meanderings and "flexibility of brooks" a flowing form of curvature to the commanding presence of mountains. And he believes that poems should curve. In the self-revealing "Saying Saying Away," Ammons writes that poems flow into a "place where the distinction / between meaning and being is erased into the meaning of / being." A master of the couplet, Ammons has a Zen point of view and a voice that harmonizes well with e. e. cummings and Robert Frost.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393039580
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/28/1996
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 6.04 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.04 (d)

Meet the Author

A. R. Ammons’s (1926–2001) honors include the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award.

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