ruined beauty

Classicism achieves its beauty as it is abraded and rubbed away, when it falls into ruin.

the bird, the flower, the tree

Intuition can only operate by an immediate contact with the thing. In poetry what in logic are called subjective and objective are united. There is no observer and thing observed, both are one; the poet is the bird, the flower, the tree, the Pope (Browning in “The Ring and the Book”), the ship (Coleridge in “The Ancient Mariner”), and anything else to which he is able to join himself. And if this union does not take place there can be no poetry.

—Michael Oakeshott, “Philosophy, Poetry and Reality”, What is History? (Imprint Academic, 2004)


to preserve the pure

To try to hold oneself apart from the institutional inertia and those internecine critical forces that beset the pure spirit of what poetry is.


handmade kite

Write the poem on a handmade kite. Let the kite be lifted high & far in the wind…then cut the string.


Horace inscription

“Decant your wine” (I.11) but
always “cherish the golden mean.” (II.10)

After his reading of The Odes of Horace (The Johns Hopkins U. Press, 2008), the above was inscribed to me by the translator Jeffrey H. Kaimowitz.


overheard in nature

A poem overheard in nature.


crow words

Insolent as crows the letters perched there on the ruled lines of the notebook.


nonpareil line

The nonpareil line annuls all before it. So you must strike the others, and start over.


tradition not by habit

As an architect I try to be guided not by habit but by a conscious sense of the past—by precedent, thoroughly considered. The historical comparisons chosen are part of a continuous tradition relevant to my concerns. When Eliot writes about tradition, his comments are equally relevant to architecture, notwithstanding the more obvious changes in architectural methods due to technological innovations. “In English writing,” Eliot says, “we seldom speak of tradition…Seldom, perhaps, does the word appear except in a phrase of censure. If otherwise, it is vaguely approbative, with the implication, as to a work approved, of some pleasing archeological reconstruction…Yet if the only form of tradition, of handing down, consisted in following the ways of the immediate generation before us in blind or timid adherence to its successes, ‘tradition’ should positively be discouraged…Tradition is a matter of much wider significance. It cannot be inherited, and if you want it you must obtain it by great labor…”

—Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (The Museum of Modern Art, 1966)



I’ve never felt there was a reason to explain my love for poetry.


recasts experience

The poetic image that forever recasts one’s experience of reality.


order of the day

Only this: Ever try to avoid the obvious.


letterpress to the rescue

There is nothing like seeing a display of fine letterpress books and broadsheets, the simple & elegant designs, the almost palpable fonts, the textures and muted colors of the beautiful papers, to restore one’s faith in poetry in its purest sense. Even slight discolorations at the edges of pages, or the fading of some of the text, reminds you of what it was that first drew you to the art of poetry.


like cams

The words like cams rising to do their work as the line turns in the mind.


pressed into service

Small press poetry publishing: socialized self-publication.


boule de neige

Perhaps poetry, or at least lyric poetry, may be characterized by the two central illusions that define the nature of a boule de neige: the still moment disturbed into being (a wash of images across the reader’s eye), and the following slow contraction of time as consciousness settles back into place (for what does the snowfall signify, except the poignant rhythms of a dreaming mind?).

Looking back, I suspect it’s a similar experience of time that first attracted me to poetry, and I doubt if over the years the original attraction has changed very much. What I loved then, I love now, is that aura of heightened animation with which poetry tends to surround itself (the syllables of a line of verse like the snowfall of the boule de neige)—as if, not the atmosphere, but the subject itself were momentarily stirred to life. As if the mind might actually sustain that life.

—Sherod Santos, “An Art of Poetry: Postscript to Abandoned Railway Station’,“ What Will Suffice: Contemporary American Poets on the Art of Poetry (Gibbs-Smith, 1995), edited by Christopher Buckley and Christopher Merrill


Bernoulli's principle

If a fluid is flowing horizontally and along a section of a streamline, where the speed increases it can only be because the fluid on that section has moved from a region of higher pressure to a region of lower pressure; and if its speed decreases, it can only be because it has moved from a region of lower pressure to a region of higher pressure. Consequently, within a fluid flowing horizontally, the highest speed occurs where the pressure is lowest, and the lowest speed occurs where the pressure is highest. (cited from Wikipedia)
A line of poetry obeys this dynamic.


never mind

Laughable now to think that surrealists, like Breton, believed ‘automatic writing’ was actually possible.


visibly bad

The New Yorker always publishes crappy poems until it publishes yours.


beginning and end

To write each line as though it was both the first and the final line of the poem.


blurbs in the bag

What are the odds? Spots for four blurbs on the back of a book of poems, and all are positively glowing. How lucky is that?