reading backlog

If only my insomnia would come back, I could catch up on my reading.


as the crow flies

...how are we to say what we see in a crow's flight? Is it not enough to say the crow flies purposefully, or heavily, or rowingly, or whatever. There are no words to capture the infinite depth of crowiness in the crow's flight. All we can do is use a word as an indicator, or a whole bunch of words as a directive. But the ominous thing in the crow's flight, the bare-faced, bandit thing, the tattered beggarly gipsy thing, the caressing and shaping yet slightly clumsy gesture of the downstoke, as if the wings were both too heavy and too powerful, and the headlong sort of merriment, the macabre pantomime ghoulishness and the undertaker sleekness -- you could go on for a very long time with phrases of that sort and still have completely missed your instant, glimpse knowledge of the world of the crow's wingbeat. And a bookload of such descriptions is immediately rubbish when you look up and see the crow flying.

—Ted Hughes, "Words & Experience," Strong Words: Modern Poets on Modern Poetry, edited by W.N. Herbert and Matthew Hollis (Bloodaxe Books, 2000)



A poem, by any definition, makes demands on the reader.


too close for comfort

It’s intimidating to put one’s words in proximity to an excellent quote.



Each line filled one with the anticipation of being on a road approaching the skyline of a city never visited before.


a life's work and then some

At the time of his death at 29, the poet and philosopher Novalis was working on an ‘Encyclopedia of Universal Knowledge’. So much like a poet, to think such a project possible, even had he lived a long time.


open outcry

On the language's trading floor, poets buy & sell words furiously in open outcry.


ten to one

For every poet that you know there are ten other crazy and beautiful ones you’ll never know.


theory theists

Theorists and theists, different gods, but mired in dogmas all the same.


broken field runner

Poet, be a broken field runner through the language!


the aesthetic-constructive

Even before non-representative styles were created, artists had become more deeply conscious of the aesthetic-constructive components of the work apart from denoted meanings.

--Meyer Schapiro, “Style,” The Problem of Style (Fawcett Publications, 1966), edited by J.V. Cunningham


my own poems

Too many poets know only their own poems.


poem as hive

A poem is a resonant hive. Hear it, and feel its vibrant thrum.



The poet walks alone out onto the springboard of the first line.


face value

Of course the facile are afraid of the self.


physicist flummoxed by poetry

Robert Oppenheimer was working at Göttingen and the great mathematical physicist, Paul Dirac, came to him one day and said: "Oppenheimer, they tell me you are writing poetry. I do not see how a man can work on the frontiers of physics and write a poetry at the same time. They are in opposition. In science you want to say something that nobody knew before, in words which everyone can understand. In poetry you are bound to say something that everybody knows already in words that nobody can understand."

(An anecdote quoted in various texts)


beyond the call

One must be truly Heroic to write (or to read) so many successive couplets.


light shelter

Alone in the room, reading in a floor lamp’s cone of light, my hut.


momentous image

The image was a haiku momentous.


alternate alphabet

The reviser’s alphabet: the squiggle, the strike-through, the arrow, the slash mark, etc.