A.R. Ammons and the Poetics of Widening Scope

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Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1994 - 246 pages
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A. R. Ammons and the Poetics of Widening Scope explores the full range of Ammons's poetry, from the poet's first published poems in Ommateum to his most recently published long poem, Garbage. After contextualizing Ammons as a poet of science, Steven P. Schneider examines Ammons's relationship to his American Romantic forebears, Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman. Key chapters are devoted to the connections between Ammons's poetry and contemporary vision theory, astronomy, and biology. Schneider presents new and penetrating readings of Ammons's central poems, such as "Corsons Inlet," Sphere, and "Easter Morning."
The author argues that A. R. Ammons is committed to the concept of "widening scope." For Ammons, this refers to both his own cognitive and visual range and to that of his readers. Walt Whitman, in his 1855 Preface to Leaves of Grass, asked: "Who knows the curious mystery of the eyesight?" Over a century later, Ammons declares that "there is no finality of vision." Ammons's exploration of the expansive possibilities of sight and science enables him to extend the American visionary tradition into the late twentieth century. As a poet Ammons is not only keenly introspective but also intensely observant of the natural world. Schneider suggests that this inward and outward movement of observation in Ammons's work helps to explain why critics have identified him as both a poet of the mind and a poet of nature. This intersection of self and cosmos yields for Ammons a poetry of heightened consciousness of its own processes and forms. Ammons's poems also reflect and probe the intricate processes of the natural world, and Schneider writes lucidly about these complex scientific concepts - the light cone, quantum physics, the origins of the universe - in order to illuminate Ammons's poetry of cosmos and consciousness.

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List of Abbreviations
Ammons and His Forebears
Ammonss Visual Calisthenics

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About the author (1994)

Steven P. Schneider is a member of the Liberal Studies faculty at the University of Washington-Bothell.

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