Our spring sale is on! Use promo code SPRING24 at checkout to save 50% on any order!

Prose reflections on the nature, nuances, and undiminished importance of poetry

Look Inside

Table of Contents:

  • Autobiographical Note
  • Foreword to Ommateum
  • A Note on Prosody
  • A Note on Incongruence
  • Note of Intent
  • A Poem Is a Walk
  • Surfaces
  • Differences of Degree
  • Taking Exception
  • A Paragraph of Precedence
  • Poetry Is Action
  • "I Couldn't Wait to Say the Word"
  • "The Unassimilable Fact Leads Us On ... ": Jim Stahl
  • An Interview: William Walsh
  • Perversity, Propaganda, and Poetry: Zofia Burr
  • The Paris Review Interview: David Lehman
  • Inside Out
  • Motion Which Disestablishes Organizes Everything
  • On "Motion Which Disestablishes Organizes Everything"
  • Making Change
  • Anxiety's Prosody
  • On "Anxiety's Prosody"
  • The Damned
  • On "The Damned"
  • On Garbage.


Set in Motion collects for the first time the prose writings of A. R. Ammons, one of our most important and enduring contemporary poets. Hailed as a major force in American poetry by such redoubtable critics as Harold Bloom and Helen Vendler, Ammons has reflected upon the influences of luminaries like Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Frost, Stevens, and Williams while creating a compelling style and an artistic vision uniquely his own.
Set in Motion includes essays, reviews, and interviews as well as a selection of Ammons's poems, with commentary from the author about their inspiration and effects. He takes up the questions that have been central to American poetry over the last forty years and connects them to the larger enterprise of living in a difficult, changing world. At a moment when the arts are under attack, Ammons reminds us of the crucial role poetry plays in teaching us to recognize and use sources of understanding that are irreducible to statement.
A. R. Ammons is the author of Sphere, A Coast of Trees, and Garbage and was recently the editor of The Best American Poetry 1994. His awards include the MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowships, the Bollingen Prize, two National Book Awards, and prizes from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Book Critics Circle. He is Goldwin Smith Professor of Poetry, Cornell University.