"Garbage," A.R. Ammons writes in this book-length poem, "has to be the poem of our time because / garbage is spiritual, believable enough / to get our attention, getting in the way..." Talky and playful, the couplets of the National Book Award-winning Garbage propel one through the trash dump of 20th-century meaning, as well as into the past and future, where "millennia jiggle in your eyes at night." This project, by turns wryly self-deprecating and densely philosophical, places Ammons in the company of such recent epic funnymen as John Ashbery, Ronald Johnson, and, very self-consciously, William Carlos Williams. Like any good epic, the poem begins in doubt, with Ammons wondering whether to write the book or simply retire and live a life of leisure on Social Security (plus a surely ample pension from his longtime Cornell University professorship). Like John Milton in the preamble to his epic, Paradise Lost, Ammons uses the metaphor of a tree to focus his poetic ambition. "I mean," he writes, "take my yard maple--put out in the free / and open--has overgrown, its trunk / split down from a high fork ... The fat tree, unable to stop pouring it on, overfed and overgrew ... It just / goes to show you: moderation imposed is better / than no moderation at all." Indeed, the poem's 121 pages seem at times nothing more than an attempt to buoy the moment between two extremes: exuberant falsehoods at one end of the scale, cynical platitudes on the other. This "moderation" has served as Ammons' dominant aesthetic during his long poetic career, though Garbage's length and epic ambitions disrupt his trademark austerity. Despite his tangential questioning of reality and time, the poem's ultimate wisdom lies in how it imagines the actively good person, one who sees that
...life, life is like a poem: the moment itIn a time when most poetry is about loss, Ammons wanders through our community junkyard and, with his good eye, points out what's valuable, and tells us, in his trustworthy tone, why. --Edward Skoog --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
begins, it begins to end: the tension this
establishes makes every move and movement, every
gap and stumble, every glide and rise significant
This book-length poem is the second in Ammons's ( Sumerian Vistas ) prolific and distinguished career. In it, 18 sections of meditative free verse range through mortality, nature and our human place in it, as well as through the ordering circuits of poetry and art. At first Ammons declares, "This is a scientific poem," but he means that the reality of our lives and our work is attuned to the natural world in ways measurable and mysterious, as science is to him. Actual garbage, then, is only the starting point he spins away from and returns to in his musings. It is poetry itself that can cast a spell and prevent death: "I want to get / around to where I can say I'm glad I was here, / even if I must go." Sporadically, the writing here is very fine. Ammons is a master of the music inside the conversational; at times, his words take on the momentum of a fugue. 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.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Garbage is spiritual. Really, I'm serious. Don't believe me? Read A.R. Ammons's epic poem. I'm positive that he will convince you. Read morePublished on February 12, 2012 by Fast Food Blogger
It's a stupid book and isnt worth while the read. You cnat understand a word the guy says. And it belongs in the trash.Published on September 4, 2004 by Lala
This book is brilliant, & so unique, through & through. Very particular music, with amazing, complex metaphors; a luminous lexus; a solid, earthy grip in the world with... Read morePublished on March 28, 2003 by I X Key