A.R. Ammons

A.R. Ammons: On "Corsons Inlet"

MR: Do you write all your long poems in sequence?

A: That's right, I just begin. I do the same for the short poems; they're written the same way. I never—I can show you some drafts—"Corsons Inlet," that poem "Corsons Inlet" was written just like that, from beginning to end, in one sitting. I don't recommend that as being better than anything else. I'm just saying that's the way I did it. I came back to it, of course, and reconsidered it with my best judgment.

If you weren't learning something, what would be the use of doing it. So you can't write out of just what you know. There's no motivation for that. And so I feel always in agreement with that thing that Emerson said in the essay Nature, where he says let me record from day to day my honest thought. Today, I say exactly the way things seem to me. Tomorrow, I also say, and it may differ somewhat from what I said the day before, but the difference, while it may be interesting, is not as important as the hope, which he expresses, that if you go on doing this somehow or other you will come to know a deeper thing that unifies all these days. Whereas if you had tried to plunge towards that deeper symmetry directly, there would be no way you could get there.

From "'A Place You Can Live': An Interview with A.R. Ammons." Critical Essays on A. R. Ammons. Ed. Robert Kirschter. G.K. Hall & Co., 1997. Interview originally published in Manhattan Review.