7.21.2017

all the right words

The index of that book seemed like a word list for a great poem.

7.19.2017

inside the atom

We must be clear that when it comes to atoms, language can be used only as in poetry. The poet, too, is not nearly so concerned with describing facts as with creating images and establishing mental connections.

Niels Bohr, in his first meeting with Werner Heisenberg in early summer 1920, quoted in Theorizing Modernism: Essays in Critical Theory (1993) by Steve Giles, p. 28.

7.18.2017

you're a superstar

Simon & Schuster’s book publicity states that Michael Robbins is a “superstar poet.” I did not know that.

7.17.2017

what it is

Given that we agree the poem is accessible, would that be the first attribute you’d mark it with?

7.16.2017

wait as they whet

One of those pauses during a writing workshop when in the background you could hear steel being sharpened on a grinding wheel.

7.15.2017

longer grave

The poet was 5’ 9” tall in his life. I’m told his archive, in the basement of the university library where it’s housed, measures 18 linear feet.

7.14.2017

staying grounded

Whatever their skills at language might be, poets should know how to plant and to tend a vegetable or a flower.

7.12.2017

when art appears

The most beautiful book would be that which would not be possible to consider as a book.

When art appears, life disappears.

To paint so as not to have to think any more pleases me, to think in order to paint is a piece of nonsense on the high tide of the spirit.

Gallery openings fill me with melancholy, the same goes for weddings and funerals.

Francis Picabia, Yes No: Poems & Sayings (Hanuman Books, 1990), translated by Rémy Hall

7.11.2017

revising aristotle

The poem’s drama was in its usage and not in its narrative elements.

7.09.2017

twain never met

No other metaphor before.

7.08.2017

new game

They invented a new way to play at poetry.

7.06.2017

dizzying universe

You have to read haphazardly, open and discover good books by happenstance these days. There are so many poets, so many books (planets), swimming into one’s ken (to steal a phrase from Keats).

7.05.2017

went by me

I don’t mind if I miss certain allusions as they sail past me without recognition as long as they ruffle a few brain cells as they pass.

7.04.2017

two poets

There are two masters, Antonio Machado and Juan Ramón Jiménez. The first lives on a pure plane of serenity and poetic perfection; a human and celestial poet who has already transcended every sort of struggle, the absolute master of his prodigious inner world. Jiménez is a great poet ravaged by the terrible exaltation of his “I,” lacerated by the reality around him, stung incredibly hard by insignificant things, his ears tuned to the world, which is the true enemy of his marvelous and unique poetic soul.

—Federico Garcia Lorca, “Conversation with Bagaría,” Deep Song and Other Prose (New Directions, 1975), edited and translated by Christopher Maurer.

7.03.2017

questionable choice

Asking the poet you once dated to write an epithalamium for your wedding

7.01.2017

royal road

If the interpretation of dreams is the via regia to the unconscious, then the interpretation of poems takes the same wondrous road to the unknowable.