James Dickey, The Whole Motion: Collected Poems, 1945-1992 (Middletown, CT, 1992).
Robert Kirschten, Struggling for Wings: The Art of James Dickey (Columbia, SC, 1997). Ernest Suarez, James Dickey and the Politics of Canon: Assessing the Savage Ideal (Columbia, MS, 1993).
Gordon Van Ness, Outbelieving Existence: The Measured Motion of James Dickey (Columbia, SC, 1992).
Archie Randolph Ammons was born in Whiteville, North Carolina, the son of a tobacco farmer, and began writing poetry while serving in the navy in the Second World War. He studied biology and chemistry at Wake Forest University, and following his graduation in 1949 pursued graduate study in English for two years at the University of California, Berkeley. After a year as principal of a small elementary school in Hatteras, North Carolina, and a period as a real estate salesman, he went on to manage his father-in-law's glass-making company in southern New Jersey. The publication of his first book of poems, Ommateum (1955), was self-financed and barely noticed, but the appearance of his second, Expressions of Sea Level, in 1964 coincided with his appointment to a position teaching writing at Cornell University. In his subsequent career he published more than 25 books of poetry, and his honors included two National Book Awards, a Bollingen Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Ammons's poetry is primarily meditative. His interest in the relationship of humans to nature, and in the possibilities of transcendence, has led his work to be compared to that of Emerson. Both formally and in its subject matter Ammons's poetry is concerned with process, with an organic set of relationships that allows for open possibilities and a series of ongoing, connected encounters. Within this concern his work sometimes juxtaposes science and aesthetics - not to suggest a dichotomy, but rather two related ways of looking at phenomena.
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