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ARK Hardcover – November 1, 2013

7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Ronald Johnson's rewarding and difficult masterpiece ARK begins with a sparrow's pinwheeled view of the sun rising and the stars fading. Johnson uses the bird, "able to see the seed beneath its bill--and at the same instant the hawk descending," as a point of departure for 99 intertwined lyric constructions of eye, ear, and mind--a tangible hymn to beauty. The poem's concrete arrangement and nonce forms demand a reader's full attention; like Milton's heavily Latinate rhetoric in Paradise Lost, Johnson's style is as disorienting as it is rewarding. One becomes a carpenter erecting the Ark's foundations, spires, and ramparts.

This is a singular work of art, though it has roots in the esoteric American tradition that spawned Henry Thoreau, Charles Ives, and folk artist-architects such as James Hampton and Sam Rodia, whose Watts Towers adorn the book's cover. Johnson explains in an introduction that ARK is "literally an architecture ... fitted together with shards of language, in a kind of cement of music." Earlier books like Valley of the Many Colored Grasses and Book of the Green Man only hint at the grand scheme of ARK, which was originally published as three separate books beginning in 1980. His patience in its writing comes across in the way each line is a formal challenge charged with possibility. He himself recalls the universe of the book's epigraph, from Edward Dahlberg: "The universe is a slumbering animal that has visions." Johnson worked the last years of his life in a Topeka, Kansas, public garden and died at 61 from brain cancer in early 1998, but the continuous, active presence of his voice in ARK ensures that he will be remembered for decades to come. --Edward Skoog --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

Published by Living Batch Press

Distributed by The University of New Mexico Press --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Flood Editions (November 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0983889368
  • ISBN-13: 978-0983889366
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,075,555 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 18, 1998
Format: Paperback
Ronald Johnson, who died in March of 1998, worked over twenty years on his epic-length cosmological poem ARK. It was worth the wait--for those who love long poems like Pound's Cantos, Williams's Paterson, Olson's Maximus, or Zukofsky's "A", ARK will take a place among these great monuments. For those whose tastes run to more traditional works like Merrill's Changing Light at Sandover, ARK will delight and astonish through its ongoing exploration of science, spirituality, and the poetic quest. I've been reading this poem in bits and pieces for fifteen years now, and I am delighted finally to see it collected in a single volume.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sean D. Young on July 20, 2013
Format: Paperback
This epic poem is one of the three poetry collections I make sure to always have with me. The other two are Duino Elegies by Rilke and Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot. Ronald Johnson is that rare modern poet who can make formal invention a joyful process for the reader. ARK is a masterpiece and I wish it was more widely available at an affordable price.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Aneesah Mcnamee on September 18, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was written by my cousin ... lovely book, what a great poet he was.
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By Thomas Hempel on October 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
I read the first parts years ago and always wondered where it would go, and it's so awesome to see it one piece. This is a true gem of modern literature.
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