I see little difference between poets and the inventors of self-propelled flying machines.


leap or fall

There is something in art that can’t be taught: What can be taught is an approach, an address or a stance, a way of being available to what might come next. But in all art, after that, it’s the leap, or the fall, and those events can only be experienced.


substitution of terms

Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made.
—John Godfrey Saxe (lawyer and poet), The Daily Cleveland Herald, March 3, 1869.

Poems, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made.


reader or hoarder

I fear I’ve gone from being a book reader to a book hoarder.


phone sex scansion

When poets talk about scansion it reminds me of phone sex…lovers from afar aching to close the distance.


wave building

Feel the line build, a wave about to break.


poetry of flowers

The poetry of flowers contains no pedantry and no affectation.

—Anna Fitch Ferguson, Bits of Philosophy (1933)

(At a book sale, I found this lovely little book by a woman who lived much like Thoreau at Walden Pond: simply, with a writing implement and ready aphorism.)


plain sight

Plain sight is poetry because real seeing is such a rare phenomenon.


beset piece

It could be described as a beset piece.


lost in its distance

A poem at a remove, is a poem flirting with the chasm in which it will be lost.


word oasis

A word oasis in a language-parched land.


unnecessary / essential

Poetry exists at the poles of unnecessary language and essential language.


abstract critical violence

But I would raise the question…whether what I have called “matter of fact” criticisms (of which there have been a good many varieties) are not less likely, in general, to do violence to our common sense of apprehension of literature or poetry than the “abstract” criticisms I have contrasted with them. The “abstract” method , as Hume said, apropos of its use in morals, “may be more perfect in itself, but suits less the imperfection of human nature, and is a common source of illusion and mistake in this as well as in other subjects.”

—R.S. Crane, The Languages of Criticism and the Structure of Poetry (U. of Toronto Press, 1953)


banal personal reminisces

Why are so many banal personal reminiscences passed off as poetry?


resists paraphrase

A poem that resists paraphrase at every turn.


meaning matters

The meaning is the matter.


threatens literature

To write the poetry that threatens literature as we know it.