straddling two worlds of the word

The letterpress printer had a beautiful website.


materially mired

The poem that was too much thinking about language and not enough thinking through language.


wring free

Imagine the brain as a sopping sponge of words. The poet tries to wring free enough drops to streak the page.


what one cannot know

In every note of his music Stravinsky celebrates the unknowability, the darkness, that lies at the heart of nature, asserting through his intuitive and even partly unconscious perception…a fact that is becoming more and more apparent in our own time…To know that there are things that one cannot, and even need not, know is to be able to live once more in a world of rich and varied meaning.

—Christopher Small, Music—Society—Education (1977)


hidden in plain sight

Possessed of an imagination that could turn creation into recognition.


no let up

Avant-garde energy is always to be admired.



The poetry book that the poet could hardly give away now goes for thousands on eBay.


not text

Please don’t ever refer to one of my poems as a ‘text’...it was always about more than that.


death mask

XIII. The work is the death mask of its conception.

—Walter Benjamin, "One-Way Street," translated by Edmund Jephcott, Selected Writings, Volume 1: 1913-1926, M. Bullock and M. W. Jennings, eds. (Belknap Press, 1996)



A major problem among contemporary poets: They are not embarrassed by the extravagant claims made by the blurbs that grace the back covers of their slim volumes.


mind the gap

The personal lyric is an attempt to fill the gap left by oneself in one's picture of the world which Merleau-Ponty suggests can never be filled.


tin pan alley

The internet is poetry’s ‘Tin Pan Alley’. Some great songs will come out of that electronic cacophony.


demand purity

There is something priggish about these young men of the school of Ingres. They seem to think it highly meritorious to have joined the ranks of “serious painting.“ This is one of the party watch-words. I said to Demay that a great number of talented artists had never done anything worthwhile because they surrounded themselves with a mass of prejudices, or had them thrust upon them by the fashion of the moment. It is the same with their famous word beauty which, everyone says, is the chief aim of the arts. But if beauty were the only aim, what would become of men like Rubens and Rembrandt and all the northern temperaments, generally speaking, who prefer other qualities? Demand purity, in other words.

—Eugène Delacroix, The Journal (9.II.1847)


awakened from a coma

A poem that awakens one from the coma of the commonplace.


escape literature

Poetry always trying to slip the grasp of literature.


adagia to design

Marjorie Perloff delivered the 2009 Wallace Stevens Birthday Bash lecture at the Hartford Public Library last Saturday night. Her talk was entitled: "Beyond Adagia: Eccentric Design in Wallace Stevens' Poetry."

“Poetry is a pheasant disappearing in the brush.” —Wallace Stevens, Adagia


strain the sonnet

The subject of a sonnet should strain the ambit of the form.


time to trim one's sails

When writing a poem, to start another page should be like raising another sheet on a schooner. There should be wind for it. Otherwise it’s best to trim one’s sails (or to revise, one might say).


stealing home

A last line that feels like a base runner stealing home.


word built

Word by word the poem built its case.