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A.R. Ammons (1926 – 2001)

Ammons was born in 1926 and raised in rural North Carolina, near Whiteville, the youngest of a tobacco farmer's three surviving children. Ammons started writing poetry on board a United States destroyer escort in the South Pacific during World War Two. Upon his return to civilian life he majored in science at Wake Forest University and later did graduate work in English at the University of California, Berkeley. For a year he was principa1 of the tiny elementary school in the island village of Cape Hatteras. For the better part of a decade he worked as a sales executive in his father-in-law's biological glass company on the southern New Jersey shore. Ammons was poet-in-residence at Cornell University.

…Ammons is a maverick talent, utterly distinctive in voice, marked by high poetic ambition yet capable of whimsy. A nature poet, with a highly developed scientific acumen that sets him off from his contemporaries, Ammons often seems intent on making the consciousness of the poet the secret or real subject of the poem. In many cases, meticulous observation of the natural world is put at the service of abstract investigations and themes, such as the question of the one and the many; Ammons is constantly on the search for a unifying principle among minute and divergent particulars. The critic Harold Bloom has championed Ammons as a transcendentalist, 'the most direct Emersonian in American poetry since Frost'.

From: Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A.R._Ammons

Ammons published Ommateum, his first book, at his own expense in 1955; sixteen copies were sold in the next five years. In 1964, the year he joined the English faculty at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, he published his second collection and rather rapidly went from total obscurity to wide acclaim. Collected Poems 1951-1971 (New York, 1972), which won the National Book Award in 1973, capped an astonishingly productive period.

From: http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/poets/a_f/ammons/life.htm


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