home appliance rescues poem

When confronted with a particularly abstract meditation, I want to say to the poet, “What this poem needs is a toaster.”


lyric event

Because of its brevity the lyric can be an event outside of artifice.



Poet, be a conquistador of terra tacenda!


music of our misery

What is a poet? An unhappy man who in his heart harbors a deep anguish, but whose lips are so fashioned that the moans and cries which pass over them are transformed into ravishing music. His fate is like that of the unfortunate victims whom the tyrant Phalaris imprisoned in a brazen bull, and slowly tortured over a steady fire; their cries could not reach the tyrant's ears so as to strike terror into his heart; when they reached his ears they sounded like sweet music. And men crowd around the poet and say to him, "Sing for us soon again"—which is as much as to say, "May new sufferings torment your soul, but may your lips be fashioned as before; for the cries would only distress us, but the music, the music, is delightful.

—Søren Kierkegaard, from “A” in Either/Or: Parables of Kierkegaard, edited by Thomas Oden (Princeton, 1978)


poetry / religion

The sign in the bookstore read: ‘POETRY/RELIGION’. Yes, I thought, they are beginning to understand that only faith sustains our genre.


not-for-profit poetry

There are two kinds of poetry presses: IRS sanctioned 501(c)(3) nonprofits and de facto nonprofits.



It seems I have a blindspot when it comes to visual poetry. I am vested in the fact that such a thing as a 'poem' can be made from the pure and simple resources of language.


thousand pictures

A word is a well of a thousand pictures.


imaginative elsewhere

Poets dream within their imaginative elsewhere. In Scotland we live with very occasional illumination, so ours is actually a rather sunlit verse; by contrast, the Spanish poet is stalked by shadow.

—Don Paterson, The Blind Eye, Faber & Faber 2007



Unable to raise a flame from the kindling of the first few lines.



The language of poetry is supersaturated.


modulate this

Political poetry necessarily ranges beyond the modulation of literary poetry.


sound of the pages

It was the sound of turning the pages that he remembered most about the book.


multum in parvo

The phrase multum in parvo has always had a special significance for me. In its terse and compact Latin diction, it exemplifies exactly what it connotes: much in little. The archetype of brevity, however, is not easy to define. Abstraction, conciseness, symbolism, and imaginative potential are basic in the concept. A multiplicity of detail is concentrated into a unified principle, the particular is transformed into the universal, a largeness of meaning is conveyed with the utmost economy of means. This largeness of meaning should be accomplished by a dramatic impact, in a word: insight with a gasp.

—Carl Zigrosser, Multum In Parvo (George Braziller, 1965)


slow to stop

The longer the poem the more extensive the ending. An epic poem should avoid rapid deceleration. Or to put it another way, a freight train or line of barges doesn’t stop on a dime.


life's sake

Art for life's sake. That and that alone.


airport bookstore

Walking into an airport bookstore, behind me hundreds of people streaming in all directions to this or that gate and flight, and I realize how lucky I am to know the classics from the chaff.


instance unloosed

To unloose the instance without effusive utterance.


words to beware of

Certain words aspire to the state of poeticism.


exotic & commonplace

Eliot was from the first a poet with a remarkable range of diction, and with a natural gift for the vividly memorable phrase. He was always consciously aware of the varied resources of English poetic diction and delighted to place an exotic word exactly, or to give us a sudden shock which the unexpected introduction of a commonplace word or phrase can provide.

—Helen Gardner, The Art of T.S. Eliot, E.P. Dutton & Co 1959



A poetry impossible to deplete even after repeated readings.


prose poet

Prose poet: Escapee from the chain-gang of the line. He runs on, hearing the dogs in the distance.