no inert fact

There is nothing in the real world which is merely an inert fact. Every reality is there for feeling: it promotes feeling; and it is felt.

—Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality, eds. David Ray Griffin and Donald Sherburne (The Free Press, 1978, p. 310), lecture delivered in 1927.


rhetorical question

Why not write about the rhombus?


for want of form

When the words came pouring out of him, for want of form, he grasped for cups, buckets & pans.


dead poet pinned down

It won’t be long before the annotated Bukowski is released.


another monsterpiece

Too many who haven’t the content or the temperament for the task, think to be a major poet means they must write a poem of epic length.


with nothing to bring

if representative form has value, it is as form, not as representation. The representative element in a work of art may or may not be harmful; always is irrelevant. For, to appreciate a work of art we need bring with us nothing from life, no knowledge of its affairs, no familiarity with its emotions.

—Clive Bell, Art (Oxford U. Press, 1987, p. 25)

[Of course, one might ask, "What choice have we? It's not as though we can set aside all prior experience before we address a work of art."]


unexpected delight

When reading a book in a field far removed from poetry, I often begin by flipping to the index to see if there are any references to the word ‘poet’ or ‘poetry’. Sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised.


the x-ray and the acetylene torch

Criticism is analytic; while theory is synthetic.


waste land the sequel

“The Waste Land 2” was not quite as compelling. It borrowed some of the glory but lacked the energy of the original.

[See iPad app]

This just in: Many who downloaded the app complained to Apple when they realized "The Waste Land" was not a video game in which zombies and alien lifeforms could be blasted into colorful pixels.


translation machine

Always the same handful of poets are translated again & again: How many Rilkes, Lorcas, Rimbauds, etc., do we need?

[Thinking of Ashbery's recent Rimbaud]


outside in

Only when the outside is in us can it start to become material for the poem. But again, this is only a beginning, because the outside world enters everyone and not only into poets, and within each of us is that same labyrinth of paths, of which few are taken, often the same ones.

—Joan Margarit, New Letters to a Young Poet (Swan Isle Press, 2011), translated by Christopher Maurer



A poem of many plies of mediation.


severed vitals

Lines cut from its middle, an act of harakiri for the poem, and it was like the whole body folded over and collapsed.


cat people

Poets living with house cats always invoking lions.


nail driven

Fear of the period; its finality, that last nail driven.


god knows

When that poem was written, two people knew what it meant—God and Robert Browning. And now God only knows what it means.

—Robert Browning, as quoted by G. K. Chesterton in his biography Robert Browning (MacMillan, 1903)


communiqués of the insomniac

In the morning at the café I noticed someone’s finger had traced a text, perhaps a poem, on the dew-covered tabletop.


tested by the text

A reader of poetry is a serious and savvy character; has to be.


thread or read

Breaking the block: Read until you find a thread. Better yet, read until your head explodes.



Poetic image: That thing which would go unnoticed except to an untrained eye.


lily light

    Light lily lily light light lily light

    Lightli ly

    Outline stones for the wind

    All creatures come
    To mind to oneness

Light first and last, and lilies and lights along the way. The alleyway, in just that way and just that order, pleasured my eyes. Of course it was a happiness to say. “Only the lull I like” wrote Whitman. If I can see it, it must be moving; and when I see it, I am moving too. The lull is not a pause. The lull is an ensemble underway, and as I found, anything I might say would be an adverb. [157]

Donald Revell, The Art of Attention (Graywolf Press, 2007)