try to return

It is in poetry that we try to return our love for language.


recalibrate tolerances

As soon as a critic starts to effuse about ‘perfection’ you can surmise that a recalibration of tolerances is in order.


closer to real

Surrealism gathers strength when it hews closest to the real.


never better

Every couple of years the famous poet would publish another book and the critics always said “He’s never been better,” as though that were a compliment.


whole at once

He alone can conceive and compose, who sees the whole at once before him.

—Henry Fuseli (1741-1825), Life and Writings of Henry Fuseli, edited by John Knowles


old technology

Language is perhaps our oldest technology.


syllabus poetry

From the moment it was written it was syllabus poetry. A 'text' that went straight to academe without even a passing wave to an audience.



To have written a tamper-proof poem.


parts of speech

A noun is not a word; it’s an image forming out of an alphabetic mist. A verb is a blurred noun. An adjective is a noun’s coat of paint. An adverb is a verb’s extravagant flourish. And the other parts of speech just don’t matter.



A desiccated body lies in an ornate sarcophagus of form.


close to nature

Poetry keeps language close to nature.


image of note: a rabid fox

I with the sin of despair
for the world my species has spoiled,

the fox for its hunger,
its rabies, its dirty coat
slung over a frail skeleton.

(from the poem "The Ruiner of Lives," by Chase Twichell,
reprinted in Dark Horses: Poets on Overlooked Poems,
edited by Joy Katz and Kevin Prufer, Univ. of Illinois Press, 2007)


pyschological flowering

Not confessional; rather the soul exposed in its full archetypal and psychological flowering.


local poetics

‘All poetics is local’. (To turn Senator Thomas ‘Tip’ O’Neil’s maxim.)


one and done

I can admire an avant-garde of one. As a group an avant-garde is less attractive. Something like an art gang.


interchangable blurbs

Blurbs should be attached to the backs of books with velcro. They're so generic and indistinguishable in their praise, that it would be a kind of efficient recycling to pull them off of the old books and to reapply them to newly released titles.


the sublime ratio

When evaluating art, try to measure the ratio of surface to essence. The lower the value the better the art.


what is poetry anyway?

Tell me, you people out there, what is poetry anyway?
      Can anyone die without even a little?

--Mark Strand, concluding lines from “The Great Poet Returns,” Blizzard of One (Knopf, 1998)



You read it to yourself silently, yet you could feel it in the mouth and in the ears.


items of interest

A poem lurks in every list.