aphoristic ambitions

Every couplet aspires to aphorism (or epigram). [Thinking of Alexander Pope.]


preempt the prompt

Writing that comes from ‘prompts’ is not going to be important.


particular within universal

Seeing that nearly all the words to be found in the dictionary stand for universals, it is strange that hardly anybody except students of philosophy ever realizes that there are such things as universals. We do not naturally dwell upon those words in a sentence which do not stand for particulars; and if we are forced to dwell upon a word which stands for a universal, we naturally think of it as standing for some one of the particulars that come under the universal.

—Bertand Russell, The Problems of Philosophy (Oxford Univ. Press, 1959)


blossom in the mind

As I read the poem I could feel the lines unfurl, flowering within the lobes of my brain.


carry forward

Each line carries the memory of the one before.


eclipse event

Metaphor like an eclipse where one object passes over and interposes itself between the observer and the other object, and then a shadow (lunar eclipse) or corona (solar eclipse) appears.


not in the game

Shun those who would make of poetry a word game.



A poem bears information whether as a meaning-making entity or as pure experience. When we revise a poem we are often tempted to cut things (eliminate information) after our first reading of the poem which seem to be extraneous or superfluous in retrospect. And yet we can never wipe the mind’s slate clean and experience the poem the way we did in our first reading of it. Certain things may be cut from the poem which will always inform our reading of that poem. These elements remain in the mind even after being deleted from the text. But how will the next ‘first-time reader’ of the poem experience it without these elements? That is the nagging question faced during revision.


solitary lakes

Somewhere there they wait for unwritten poems like solitary lakes that no one sees.

—Anna Kamienska, In That Great River: A Notebook, selected and translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh


exhausted enjambment

The prose poem’s ascendency coincided with the exhaustion of the enjambment as a resource for free verse.


veer with verve

The best criticism veers easily back and forth between text and aesthetic assertions.


no beat

Meter was not his m├ętier.


ping pong poet

Another career-track poet careening from reading gigs to writers conferences.