If, according to an old saying, it is a fact that the aim and the nature and even the essence of true art is its suitability (caput artis decere) then indeed Gregorian art takes first place—one unique and noble thought is expressed in the form which is most appropriate and most adequate to the thought itself. But there is more to it: over and above this first quality of suitability, we discover others of broader and higher significance. It soon becomes evident that this form of art, far more than any other, is impregnated, saturated, with truth itself, and that falsehood, or even fiction and vain pretense, are foreign to it and have no place in it. And so the circle of perfect requirements is complete, and in a perhaps unique combination the true, the beautiful and the good meet, and this sublime trinity, which is absent from so many works of art—not excluding the greatest—becomes a living reality in a chapel where humble monks sing and pray on their knees.

—Camille Bellaigue ,“Le Chant Gr√©gorian √† l’Abbaye de Solesmes”
Les Epoques de la Musique
(Delagrave, 1909)


comfortable bubble

A reader who never ventured out of the comfortable bubble of the contemporary.


luddite moment

With all the talk about how new technologies (twitter, facebook, blogs, youtube, ebooks, podcasts, etc.) are changing poetry, I can’t help but think that perhaps poetry’s future may be better served by delivering poems via carrier pigeons and bottles tossed into the sea.


word dreamed before

Every word ought to be dreamed
before becoming poem.

—Roberto Juarroz, opening lines of “Tenth.12,” Vertical Poetry: Recent Poems, translated by Mary Crow (White Pine Press, 1992)


beast and pest

The critic’s minor biting at a major poet’s work reminded me of a fly at the ear of a water buffalo. The beast flicks its ear once and while, but is otherwise untroubled by this fly. [re: David Orr on Robert Hass' The Apple Trees at Olema: New & Selected Poems in The New York Times Book Review, May 2010]



Pound, being too ready with a dictum, may have betrayed some of the dictator within him.


rewritten in realtime

I woke from the dream of the poem and rewrote it in language of the real.


pardon my french

Glad I don’t have to do artist shit all the time.


radiant sightlines

The poem as an exploded panopticon.


less a thing

Poetry, whose material is language, is perhaps the most human and least worldly of the arts, the one in which the end product remains closest to the thought that inspired it...Of all things of thought, poetry is the closest to thought, and a poem is less a thing than any other work of art.

—Hannah Arendt (1906-1975), The Human Condition (1958)


collective cry

In the readers arose a collective cri de Coeur.


just two more

In [American] football games they have a two-minute warning. At readings the poet will often give the audience the ‘just two more’ warning.


magna cum libri

He was a graduate of that shabby academy called a used bookshop.


armor plated

The poem was beyond opaque; the lines like overlapping armor plates.


low dose

Prose poetry: low-dose prose.


rather than

I like elements which are hybrid rather than “pure,” compromising rather than “clean,” distorted rather than “straightforward,” ambiguous rather than “articulated,” perverse as well as impersonal, boring as well as “interesting,” conventional rather than “designed,” accommodating rather than excluding, redundant rather than simple, vestigial as well as innovating, inconsistent and equivocal rather than direct and clear. I am for messy vitality over obvious unity. I include the non-sequitur and proclaim the duality.

I am for richness of meaning rather than clarity of meaning; for the implicit function as well as the explicit function. I prefer “both-and” to “either-or.”

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


stray birds

A couple of days ago I found a copy of Tagore’s Stray Birds in a bin at the grocery store. Cost: 25 cents.

(n.b.: this two-bits was written a few years ago, but I post it today to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Rabindranath Tagore.)


troubled sleep

Artists should be anxious about their art. The worst artists sleep like babies content with whatever marks they’ve made.


state of the art

Reading audience at a local college: Several faculty from the English Department, two dozen of their students impressed into attendance. Locals: me.


suffocating title

Your title was so apt and explanatory, it was like a pillow smothering the poem lying in its bed.


reading material

“Nice bibliography.”: Inadvertent insult to an academic book.