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A Coast of Trees: Poemsby A R Ammons
Synopses & Reviews
Surrender to a wild river and unexpected things can happen. Time on the water can produce moments of pristine clarity or hatch wild thoughts, foster a deep connection with the real world or summon the spiritual.
River of Light: A Conversation with Kabir is centered in one manand#8217;s meditations and revelations while traveling on a river. John Morgan spent a week traveling the Copper River in Southcentral Alaska, and the resulting encounters form the heart of this book-length poem. The riverand#8217;s shifting landscape enriches the poemand#8217;s meditative mood while currents shape the poem and the pacing of its lines. The mystic poet Kabir is Morganand#8217;s internal guide and serves as a divine foil through quiet stretches that bring to mind questions about war and human nature. Artwork by distinguished Alaska artist Kesler Woodward is a sublime companion to the text.
A combination of adventurerand#8217;s tale and spiritual quest, River of Light: A Conversation with Kabir takes the reader on a soulful journey that is both deeply personal and profoundly universal.
This collection of shorter poems won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1981.
River of Light: A Conversation with Kabirand#160; is a book-length poem that takes the reader on a week-long raft trip down a wild river in southcentral Alaska. Regional wildlife inhabit the poemand#8217;s world, and the riverand#8217;s shifting landscape energizes and enriches the meditative mood as the riverand#8217;s waves and currents influence the shaping and pacing of its lines. Because the raft trip took place in 2003 during the second Iraq War, war is on the narratorand#8217;s mind; but the trip is a spiritual journey as well, since the poem incorporates commentary by the fifteenth-century Indian mystic poet Kabir, who serves as a kind of mentor for the poemand#8217;s narrator.and#160;
This volume includes artwork by the distinguished Alaska artist Kesler Woodward. Appropriately, the artist, who participated in the original raft trip, appears in the poem.
When watching old men releasing their caged birds at dawn in New York City or a ladder of cranes rising from a field in Manitoba or even willow catkins in Alaska, Sexton is a keen observer of the interconnectedness of the natural and human worlds. Here we meet the wolf of Gubbio when he is old and lame and Li Bai chanting to a Yangtze River dolphin centuries ago, but no matter where he takes us we always come back to the landscape and people of Alaska; to cloudberries in a marsh and a wedding in the village of Ninlichik where he held a crown of gold over the head of the bride. Sexton carefully notes it all in his familiar practice of traditional forms and free verse. The tensions of his formal influences, Chinese and European, force the reader to experience these spare lines and tight observations in new ways.
Whether watching men releasing caged birds at dawn in New York City or a ladder of cranes rising from a field in Manitoba, Tom Sexton is a keen observer of the interconnectedness of the natural and human worlds. The former Alaska poet laureate takes to the road in this new collection, wending a lyrical and at times mystical path between Alaska and New England.
Travelers along the way include the fabled wolf of Gubbio, old and lame and long past his taming encounter with Saint Francis of Assisi, and Chinese poet Li Bai chanting to a Yangtze River dolphin. Yet, while Sextons journey crosses borders—and occasionally centuries—his ultimate destination is always the landscape and people of Alaska. A Ladder of Cranes showcases Sextons mastery of both traditional forms and free verse. The tensions of his formal influences, Chinese and European, force the reader to experience these spare lines and tight observations in stunning new ways.
Of this volume, the noted critic Harold Bloom has written, " represents A. R. Ammons at his strongest and most eloquent in the lyric mode. The book is an achievement fully comparable to his and . Among the poems likely to assume a permanent place in the Ammonsian (and American) canon are the majestic title lyric and 'Swells,' 'Easter Morning,' 'Keepsake,' 'Givings,' and 'Persistences.' Again Ammons has confirmed his vital continuities with the central Whitmanian tradition of our poetry, and his crucial place in that panoply."
About the Author
A. R. Ammons (1926-2001) is one of the most celebrated poets of our time.
Table of Contents
Prologue: Chitina, Alaska, July 2003
The Three Worlds
The Cosmic Beast
Amid Mucus and Blood
A God-Like Flame
The Breath Inside the Breath
A River of Light
A Note on Kabir
What Our Readers Are Saying
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