Ithaca: Cornell University Press, (1965). Single volume, measuring 8.75 x 5.25 inches: , 205, . Original tan cloth spine lettered in brown, brown paper boards, tan endpapers, original unclipped photographic dust jacket printed in shades of tan and brown. Cornell University Press review slip laid in, giving the author as “Archie Ammons,” with typed publication date of “May 21, 1965.” Penciled marginalia throughout text by an early reviewer.
First edition of this journalistic experiment by American poet A.R. Ammons, a poem composed on a roll of adding-machine tape over the course of a few weeks in December 1963 and January 1964. Kept in check by the two-inch wide tape, with no space for revision, Ammons types his way resolutely through the dead of winter: “how much footage is / tightly wound in that / roll: once started / can I ever get / free / of the thing.” This review copy has been impatiently annotated by an early critic in pencil. Although the reader praises individual passages (“nice,” “good,” “preach”), the notes more often express exasperation with the conceit of the poem: “the logical conclusion of pop poetry: its form determined by totally external (or is it internal? anyway not integral) consideration to form.” Beside Ammons’s observation that “I’m waiting to hear if / Cornell will give me / a job: I need / to work & / maybe I write / too much,” the reader has written: “the essence of the poem.” A fine example of a strikingly original work of American poetry, including evidence of its mixed contemporary reception.