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Monday, January 30, 2023

Ammons volte-face

 I never was big on Ammons, but he is actually pretty great.  Maybe I made the mistake of trying to read a book called Garbage [a long poem] which I found long-winded and prosaic, almost unreadable. What I like about a few poems ("And I said I am Ezra") I couldn't find in too many other poems. Also, I was committed to poetics of non-earnestness and quite picky or dogmatic about certain of my preferences. Something in my brain dislodged, my blockage toward him, and now I actively like him. This is not to day I prefer him to Ashbery, but I would not like him better if he were more like Ashbery. In other words, the aspects I like of him are unique to his achievement. I would see him all the time in the "Temple of Zeus" in Cornell University (a little coffee shop in one of the buildings, with white plaster reproductions of Greek statues) but of course I never approached him! 

Understanding a poet is understanding why even seemingly unattractive aspects are part of the whole that makes everything else work. So with Ammon's shagginess and occasional abstraction / obviousness.  

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