Archie Randolph Ammons

(18 February 1926 – 25 February 2001 / Whiteville, North Carolina)

Poetics


I look for the way
things will turn
out spiralling from a center,
the shape
things will take to come forth in

so that the birch tree white
touched black at branches
will stand out
wind-glittering
totally its apparent self:

I look for the forms
things want to come as

from what black wells of possibility,
how a thing will
unfold:

not the shape on paper -- though
that, too -- but the
uninterfering means on paper:

not so much looking for the shape
as being available
to any shape that may be
summoning itself
through me
from the self not mine but ours.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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  • Bronze Star - 6,138 Points Frank Avon (10/18/2014 1:25:00 AM)

    This, I think, is a clear statement of Ammons' way of writing - indeed, his very purpose for writing. not seeking or discovering the poem, but letting the poem find him, and at the same time, finding his reader. Of the modernist poets, I think Ammons is the one most concerned about this readers - about finding common ground with us. The poem, to him, should be as natural as a birch tree (and as striking) , but it must come naturally. It actually can't be created; it must unfold itself from black wells of possibility. Poets must open themselves (and the readers they bear in themselves) to the simple unfolding of a spiral of meaning from the many, many possibilities, unforeseen.
    The 'shape' cannot be imposed; it must spiral forth. (Report) Reply

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