A. R. Ammons
Feint Praise

The world has dealt (nothing personal)

outrageously with me: now, I deal back: it's


like arguing with the head-chopper though,

where can it get me: I guess I could get to where I'd


be saying, look, sir, do you fully realize what

you're doing: is there any room for


negotiation here, like, your head or mine:

(when an artist, say, striving to be normal,


isn't, there you have genuine stuff: not

necessarily the best stuff: but, how much


better to replace the unachievable with the

inadvertent: this is what an artist means


when he says he's not responsible for his

genius, it just happens: but, alas, if the


artist quite normal enough strives to be

weird, the shocking falsity wears so thin a


sheen it's soon hardly shocking and far more

dismissible:) (the material in the preceding


parenthesis is worth thinking on): (to go the

other way further out into the periphery is


to lose hold on the central issues and

become thin, manneristic, too arty, and



Found In Volume 27, No. 04
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A. R. Ammons
About the Author

A. R. Ammons wrote nearly thirty books of poetry, among them Glare(W.W. Norton, 1997); Garbage (1993), which won the National Book Award and the Library of Congress’s Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry; A Coast of Trees (1981), which received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry; Sphere (1974), which received the Bollingen Prize; and Collected Poems 1951-1971 (1972), which won the National Book Award.  He lived in Ithaca, New York, where he was Goldwin Smith Professor of Poetry at Cornell University until his retirement in 1998.  A. R.Ammons died on February 25, 2001.