One of those literary degenerates still hooked on the paper book.


not for nothing said

The poem as an expression of consequence.


bookcase or box

This is not a book for my bookcase, but for the box to be donated to a local booksale.



You could say about the poem’s ending that which too often occurs at a steeplechase race: The horse fell at the last fence.


not as an acrobat

Rexroth calls an "anthropological religion" the basis for his poetry. He has written that the anthropologist Edward Sapir was “the only person I have ever met who thoroughly understood what I dreamed of doing with poetry. Out of anthropology, psychology, and linguistics he had developed a kind of philosophy of interpersonal communion and communication.” Certainly there is a striking resemblance between Rexroth’s thought and that of Sapir, who, for example,…thought that the best poetic style “allows the artist’s personality to be as a presence, not as an acrobat,” because such artists fit “their deep intuition to the provincial accents of their daily speech” rather than weave “a private technical art fabric of their own.”

—Morgan Gibson, Kenneth Rexroth (Twayne Publishers, 1972)

(Edward Sapir’s words quoted from Language: an Introduction to the Study of Speech, 1921)


emotional leakage

Only the relatively simple forms (e.g., sonnet, villanelle) can be vessels for our psychic impulses. They retain the lyric aspect. While elaborate forms (crown of sonnets, sestina, etc.) leak emotion in direct proportion to the complexity of their structure.


responding in kind

Each reader answers the poem according to his/her own nature. (after Confucius)


solo style

The mark of a great poet is that the work is such that it cannot set off a style. Some may imitate its most superficial aspects, but the work begins and ends with that poet.


new poet laureate

On May 11, 2011, by proclamation, I was appointed to the honorary position of ‘Poet Laureate of the Town of West Hartford’ (CT). This being my official report of my first week on the job—

I asked the Town Council to annex the City of Hartford (which has no poet laureate) so that my realm might be expanded. [Declined]

I asked that a tiara of emeralds be crafted in the model of a laurel wreath, or, if funds were not available for such jewelry, that fresh laurels could be delivered to my house each week, so that my headdress will always be fresh & green as I go about town reciting poetry to the populace. [Declined]

I asked that a small area in the town library be designated as “Poet’s Corner,” and that this area should be appointed with a lounge chair of Danish design, reserved for my person, and in which I will, from time to time, ensconce myself, so that I may read or write as the spirit moves me, and should I be in need of refreshment, a member of the library staff would be given leave to bring me a Starbucks’ latte. [Declined]

Undeterred by these setbacks, I am determined to dispatch my duties with dignity and panache.


prompt and circumstance

A poetry writing prompt: A word game designed to draw out bad poetry that would otherwise arise by natural means.


blank look

In this poem the blank spaces are just empty space.


individual, intelligible, inner need

The absence of any one of these conditions excludes a work form the category of art and relegates it to that of art's counterfeits. If the work does not transmit the artist's peculiarity of feeling and is therefore not individual, if it is unintelligibly expressed, or if it has not proceeded from the author's inner need for expression - it is not a work of art. If all these conditions are present, even in the smallest degree, then the work, even if a weak one, is yet a work of art.

—Leo Tolstoy, "What Is Art?" (translation by Alymer Maude, 1899)


stiff competition

It was a warm spring evening, the door was propped open behind the speaker at the poetry reading, and throughout her reading birds could be heard singing in the background.


word horde

A poet who was obviously a word collector.


that once were lives

All those poems locked away in unread books: silent graves.


steinian query or proposition

Poetry or prose or prose or poetry or poetry or prose.


not meteorological facts

The aim of a lyric poem in which occur the words ‘sunshine’ and ‘clouds,’ is not to inform us of certain meteorological facts, but to express certain feelings of the poet and to excite similar feelings in us. A lyric poem has no assertional sense, no theoretical sense, it does not contain knowledge.

—Rudolf Carnap, Philosophy and Logical Syntax (lectures delivered at the University of London, 1934)


said but not read

At the poetry reading he said very intelligent and interesting things before each poem. But when a poem was read: "That's it? That's the whole thing?"

I once heard Joseph Langland recount a student reading he attended (at Amherst?) when Robert Frost was in the audience: A young fellow came to the podium and gave an elaborate explanation of the poem he was about to read. Then the young poet read his rather short poem. Frost piped up: "Young man, you said a better poem than you read."


critical scope

Be a critic possessed of a capacious poetics.


memoir broken into lines

Apparently you believe your narrative history merits my attention, but I come to poetry for more than memoir broken into lines.


not easy beauty

One will tell me, perhaps, that there are great beauties which make themselves felt to everyone; for example, those that one calls particularly the beauties of sentiment. I reply first that, although everybody feels certain beauties, not everybody feels them equally. Secondly, there are a great many beauties, and some of them the highest, which are only felt by persons of great intellectual accomplishment. As for the sentiments, they are accessible to everybody only when they are simple and simply expressed. If they are a bit composite, or rendered with finesse and elegance, they escape the multitude, and sometimes they even appear to them to be false.

—l’AbbĂ© N. C. J. Trublet, Essais sur divers sujets de littĂ©rature et de morale (Amsterdam, 1755), quoted in The Aesthetic Thought of the French Enlightenment (U. of Pittsburgh Press, 1971) by Francis X. J. Coleman