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MR: In "Coon Song" you tell the reader that you won't entertain him but in, poems like Sphere you do seem to make an effort if not to entertain then to hold. Would you comment on that?

A: A colleague here recently taught that poem in one of his classes and he asked me to come the second day and talk with them. I did, and it's a poem that a reader can have more than one disposition towards (referring to "Coon Song"). But we discovered that once you identify with the coon, the poem clears up. So though it sounds as if there's a speaker in the poem talking against the reader, those things are reconciled if you adopt the point of view of the subject in question, the poor raccoon, who is being hounded by these animals and about to be destroyed by them.


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.