they aren't avant-garde

Those who have to claim to be avant-garde, aren't.


critical path through the poem

No unnecessary or inert nodes of words: Solve for and find the critical path through the poem.


substitution of terms

The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.

—Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality (1929)

The safest general characterization of the European poetical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Homer.


a poem that travels light

I dream of a poem so brief and memorable, so engaging and spirited, that it will forever elude print—it will travel light from mouth to mind, mind to mouth, without ever being pinned to a page as text.


gathering storm of whispers

All the whispers gathered round and rose into crescendo.


a tidepool

A poem should be like a tidepool: A small window of water filled with wondrous things, a flux of colors and textures, giving one a glimpse into the immensity of the sea.


living in poetry

That’s what I shall call living in poetry: prolonging the real not by the fantastic, the marvelous, images of paradise, but by trying to live what is concrete in its true dimension, living one’s daily life in what one might call, perhaps, the epic of the real.

To define the verb to live would be a whole philosophy. And nothing at all.

We can amuse ourselves defining poetry, but we do not define sensations.

Living in Poetry: Interviews with Guillevic,translated from the French by Maureen Smith(The Dedalus Press, 1999) p. 11


without forensic criticism

It doesn’t take forensic criticism to tell if the poem was written in blood.


overburdening fruit

Like the limbs of an orchard tree, you could see the strain in the lines and almost hear them creak with the overburdening fruit of so many adjectives.


act of disbelief

In contemporary society to write a poem is an act of disbelief.


poetry in its street clothes

Prose poem: The language of poetry in its street clothes.


effigy and shadow

Every real effigy has a shadow which is its double; and art must falter and fail from the moment the sculptor believes he has liberated the kind of shadow whose very existence will destroy his repose.

—Antonin Artaud, preface to The Theatre and its Double, translated by Mary Caroline Richards


slip it under the tongue

Short poem: So easy to slip under the tongue, to smuggle into silence.


perpetual emotion machine

To think of the poem as a perpetual emotion machine.


the tongue refuses to lie still

Reading the poem silently my tongue refused to lie still in my mouth.


to lose your notebook

To lose your notebook feels as though a vital organ has been taken from your body.


sound of a blindman's cane striking

Just back from Germany, I thought I'd post something by a German poet...

I write poems to orient myself in reality. I view them as trigonometric points or buoys that mark a course in an unknown area. Only through writing do things take on reality for me. Reality is my goal, not my presupposition. First, I must establish it.
Let us use the word “definition” for these trigonometric signs. Such definitions are not only useful for the writer but it is absolutely necessary that he set them up. In each good line of poetry I hear the cane of the blindman striking: I am on secure ground now.

—Gunter Eich, "Some Remarks on 'Literature and Reality',”
Valuable Nail: Selected Poems of Gunter Eich,
Oberlin College Press, 1981, translated by Stuart Freibert