where word is god

Even more than in the poem, it is in the aphorism that the word is god.

—E. M. Cioran, Drawn and Quartered, translated by Richard Howard, Arcade Publishing, 1971


blowing the bridges

A poet who blows the bridges of the lines behind him.


bad company

At the open mike I fell in with a bad crowd.


intrument of intimacy

After the advent of email, only the poem was left to replace the letter as an instrument of intimate communication.


burst reader

Some people can read a book from beginning to end. I tend to be a burst reader, reading no more than a page or two at time. Perhaps this explains my poetry affinity.


llittle said thus loud

Words strike us as loud when they’re trite and spoken at a significant decibel level. Uttered at the top of one’s lungs, good poetry won’t hurt the ears.


imaginary parks

According to [Jean] Starobinski, Rousseau argued that civilization veils the transparency of nature; I want to ask if poetry can unveil that transparency….The experiment is this: to see what happens when we regard poems as imaginary parks in which we may breathe an air that is not toxic and accommodate ourselves to a mode of dwelling that is not alienated.

At the same time, it is necessary to recognize that experiments tend to be conducted in artificial conditions. The imagination is a perfect laboratory, cleansed of the contaminations of history. The true poet has to be simultaneously a geographer of the imagination and a historian of the alienations and desecrations that follow the march of ‘civilization’.

--Jonathan Bate, The Song of the Earth, Harvard Univ. Press, 2000


DNA of lit

Quotes are the DNA of literature.


bush pilot

Sometimes one fears that last line will never come, one feels like a bush pilot running low on gas, hoping to find an airstrip cut out of the wilderness.


no axioms

Poetry hasn’t axioms; it has some formulas, but all of those have at least one variable.


secret life

He had made poetry his secret life. But he realized after a time that no one was searching for what he’d hidden.


natter manner

The natter mannerists: the ‘talk poets’.


dread word

Dread the last word, so much you enjoyed the poem’s writing, or reading.


sum of the ideas

Tout poète véritable, indépendamment des pensées qui lui viennent de la vérité éternelle, doit contenir la somme des idées de son temps.

Every true poet, independently of the notions that come to him from eternal truth, should contain the sum of the ideas of his times.

—Victor Hugo, Les Rayons et les Ombres (1840, Preface)


parody paradox

No one quotes from the great parody.


in defense of criticism

One reason to read criticism is to write less, and, secondarily, to make it harder to write the next poem.


our cult

By the late twentieth century it was possible to consider those who pursued poetry as members of a cult.


one thing

Today I want to do one thing: to write a beautiful line.


world in miniature

The genuine poet is all-knowing—he is an actual world in miniature.

—Novalis, Pollen and Fragments, translated by Arthur Versluis (Phanes Press, 1989), p.124


render unto the reader

Render unto the reader what the reader has reason to expect. That may not always be meaning but it must be a meaningful experience.