A. R. Ammons Quotes

Archie Randolph Ammons (February 18, 1926 – February 25, 2001) was an American poet who won the annual National Book Award for Poetry in 1973 and 1993

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A. R. Ammons


Is it not careless to become too local when there are four hundred billion stars in our galaxy alone.

A. R. Ammons


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I must stress here the point that I appreciate clarity, order, meaning, structure, rationality: they are necessary to whatever provisional stability we have, and they can be the agents of gradual and successful change.

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I am grateful for - though I can't keep up with - the flood of articles, theses, and textbooks that mean to share insight concerning the nature of poetry.

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If we ask a vague question, such as, 'What is poetry?' we expect a vague answer, such as, 'Poetry is the music of words,' or 'Poetry is the linguistic correction of disorder.'

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Definition, rationality, and structure are ways of seeing, but they become prisons when they blank out other ways of seeing.

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The poet exposes himself to the risk. All that has been said about poetry, all that he has learned about poetry, is only a partial assurance.

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If a poem is each time new, then it is necessarily an act of discovery, a chance taken, a chance that may lead to fulfillment or disaster.

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Even if you walk exactly the same route each time - as with a sonnet - the events along the route cannot be imagined to be the same from day to day, as the poet's health, sight, his anticipations, moods, fears, thoughts cannot be the same.

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A poem generated by its own laws may be unrealized and bad in terms of so-called objective principles of taste, judgement, deduction.

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You have your identity when you find out, not what you can keep your mind on, but what you can't keep your mind off.

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Besides the actual reading in class of many poems, I would suggest you do two things: first, while teaching everything you can and keeping free of it, teach that poetry is a mode of discourse that differs from logical exposition.

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Questions structure and, so, to some extent predetermine answers.

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Anything looked at closely becomes wonderful.

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That's a wonderful change that's taken place, and so most poetry today is published, if not directly by the person, certainly by the enterprise of the poet himself, working with his friends.

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Once every five hundred years or so, a summary statement about poetry comes along that we can't imagine ourselves living without.

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