undoing the damage of haste

Art is the means we have of undoing the damage of haste. It's what everything else isn't.

—Theodore Roethke, On Poetry and Craft: Selected Prose of Theodore Roethke


art deco ditties

If not for his philosophical and aesthetic interests, Wallace Stevens might have composed only art deco ditties.



The words in the line were merely placeholders, entities deployed without the efficacy of language.


original or aboriginal

The poet too often grasps for the original, when s/he should be attempting to reach back into the mind’s aboriginal state.


spectacle of speech

The poem as spectacle of speech.


half-done or whole


In poetry, too, all that is whole might only be half-done, and yet all half-done might actually be a whole.

(Literary Aphorisms, 1797-1800)

—Friedrich Schlegel, Dialogue on Poetry & Literary Aphorisms, Behler & Struc, trans., Penn. State U. Press, 1968


mind bridge

The image is a mind bridge back to experience.


Plato knew us

Plato knew us to be those idle liars composing idylls upon our lyres.


poetic fecundity

The poet struggles to stay ahead of the poetic fecundity of slang and idiom.


not plague or pandemic

Poetry is not an art form for the mass-media age. It doesn’t create instant hysteria as does a plague or pandemic. Poetry travels quietly and slowly, gradually infecting that portion of the populace predisposed to its life-altering influence.


the mark left is poetry

We forget so easily everything we read.
The mark left is poetry, causes changes in
movement of life.

(entry March 5th, 1963)

Aim for a whole new way of using language. There should be
no artificial abbreviations (of sentences, etc.) in poetry.
Closer to the mind it comes out how? Or the mind closer
to the poem, comes out with its own good poetry.

(entry March 15th, 1963)

I don’t want to force my mind to be clever or force
it to poetry.
What are those other poets talking about.
Is language for speaking or writing,
using or making

(entry August 11th, 1963)

--Joanne Kyger, Strange Big Moon, The Japan and India Journals: 1960-1964,
North Atlantic Book, 2000


poem's test

Test for a poem: No words needed to introduce it and none would help explain it.


content over concept

A poem of concept is generally lesser in weight than a poem of content.


poet's poet

Every poet is a poet’s poet. The audience for serious poetry being comprised largely of other poets.


critic's test

I’m an able critic because I’ve written a sufficient amount of bad poetry.


fig leaf poetry

Le vers alexandrin n’est souvent qu’un cache-sottise.

The alexandrine is most often a fig leaf over stupidity.

—Stendahl (Henri Beyle, 1783-1842), Racine et Shakespeare.


lyric nodes, inert matrix

The epic or long poem consists of coruscating lyric nodes locked within an essentially inert matrix.


falling silent

Fall silent so as to gather strength, summoning the power to speak.


the published poem

To publish is to acknowledge the social function and use of poetry.