Glare: Two Poems

Glare: Two Poems

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by A. R. Ammons
     
 

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"Glare is a high-energy, relentlessly self-aware collision with the whole of life."—Albert Mobilio, SalonSee more details below

Overview

"Glare is a high-energy, relentlessly self-aware collision with the whole of life."—Albert Mobilio, Salon

Editorial Reviews

Andrew Frisardi - Boston Globe
“There is always something interesting and provocative about Ammons's observations and use of language.”
Harold Bloom
“Glare is A. R. Ammons at his most original and unrestrained. . . . Ammons at seventy is totally audacious.... Glare is high testimony.”
Andrew Frisardi
There is always something interesting and provocative about Ammons's observations and use of language.
—:Boston Globe
Albert Mobilio

A. R. Ammons routinely puts the lie to Poe's famous judgment that the long poem is a contradiction in terms. His series of book-length poems -- Tape for the Turn of the Year, Sphere, Garbage and now Glare -- may have the novel-like ambition to speak from both the town square as well as the soul's dark night, yet he has relinquished none of poetry's expressive music and precision. If Ammons were a pop star, he would be one of the rare ones capable of carrying off a double disc.

At nearly 300 pages, Glare is a high-energy, relentlessly self-aware collision with the whole of life. "I keep proving I'm not god's gift to/the world," Ammons wryly notes, "by trying to prove I am." Knotting commonplace thought into lacerating riddles is his stock-in-trade:




                                          if/I'm not to have a life, at least let

                                          me tell you about it, that is, that 



                                          I'm not having it: that will make

                                          me nearly think I'm having it:

                                          imagine 



                                          a life! of words: better than

                                          nothing, better, better, bitter-bile 



                                          better: for what I meant was love:

                                          now, don't blubber: poor comfort, 



                                          such poor comfort: twaddle: 

For Ammons, the myriad momentary revelations -- and they come fast and furious in this runaway poem, unimpeded by any punctuation other than the colon -- are always undercut by his knowing too much. Telling about his life will only "nearly" allow him to think he has one, and all the telling comes down to "twaddle" anyway. In Glare, Ammons offers a mind on fire using the ego for kindling; it's a very long poem short on sentiment, yet hardly big enough to accommodate his blistering sentience. -- Salon

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Ammons has given his book an entirely too appropriate title. Full of reflection, the collection throbs with the type of light a reader might tolerate only when expecting to be led down an important road. Instead we are led astray by a book split into two long poems that are subdivided into 117 not very cohesive pieces, nearly all of which are transcribed into plain vanilla couplets. With more than 45 years of writing experience and two National Book Awards under his belt, Ammons (Brink Road, etc.) has now firmly embraced the Grumpy Old Man school of poetry. The opening pages suggest that great things are in store: "grecian urns not forever fair when/ the sun expands... 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: "we should always believe the opposite of what/ is believed because what is believed hides// by contradicting what we don't want to believe." Some of this work is witty, and some of it slaps a reader with a bracing metaphysical humor. But most of it reads like the work of a man who, seeming to claim an entitlement to say anything and everything, exhales words at the end of a long day. (July)
Library Journal
In his 1968 essay, "A Poem Is a Walk," Ammons described poetry as being able to incorporate "contradictions, inconsistencies, explanations." His long poems demonstrate that theory, leaving him room to be humanist, philosopher, scientist, naturalist, teacher, family man, and sexual being. Writing in his familiar couplets on another roll of adding-machine tape, he reminds readers of his last book-length poem, Garbage (1993 National Book Award winner). He wants "Strip" to be akin to litter, however, casually strewn everywhere: "I have plenty and/ give plenty away, why, because here/ at nearly 70 stuff has bunched up/ with who knows how much space to/ spread out into." Or, again: "strip typing is/ like strip mining: you peel the/ surface off things shoving clutterment/ downhill." "Scat Scan," the book's shorter poem, is harder to pin down. Again, Ammons is discursive, delighting in wordplay. He sums up his life through twisted proverbs and ingeniously echoes Frost's two most famous poems, "The Road Not Taken" and "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening." As with all of Ammons's books, this volume is essential.Rochelle Ratner, formerly Poetry Editor, "Soho Weekly News," New York

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393317794
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
07/28/1998
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)

What People are saying about this

Harold Bloom
Glare is A. R. Ammons at his most original and unrestrained. . . . Ammons at seventy is totally audacious. . . . Glare is high testimony.

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