The Writing Life
An Exhibition of Literary Manuscripts
April 3 - June 30,1998
AR Ammons: The Writing Life is a celebration of the career of renowned American poet and Cornell's unofficial poet laureate, A.R. (Archie) Ammons. Internationally recognized, his many honors include two National Book Awards, a National Book Critics Circle Award, and a John D. and Katherine T. MacArthur Fellowship. The exhibition features journals, letters, manuscripts, photographs, typescripts, cassettes, paintings, and other materials drawn from the rich collection that Ammons generously donated to the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections of the Cornell University Library late in 1997. Highlighting Ammon's life, his poetic apprenticeship, his creative process and publishing career as well as his literary life as a mentor, teacher, and editor, the exhibition pays tribute to a lifetime of achievement. The opening of this exhibition coincided with "Ammonsfest," a two-day celebration of Ammons career which featured readings by poets who were once his students, lectures about his poetry by stellar critics, and culminated in a memorable reading by Ammons himself.
Born near Whiteville, N.C. in 1926, Ammons began writing poetry in 1945 while serving with the navy in the South Pacific. However, it was not until 1954 that his first volume of poetry, the self-published Ommateum, appeared, that Ammons' work began the slow process of finding like-minded readers and critics. In 1964, following a poetry reading at Cornell University, A.R. Ammons was invited to teach creative writing in the Department of English, where he has remained, happily combining his gift as a teacher with his skill as a poet.
Exhibition curated by Lorna Knight, Curator of Manuscripts, Cornell University Library.