can't stop this

A poet too bad to ever be blocked.



The rhymes were too close: Like Siamese twins, sometimes one must suffer for the vitality of the other.


their language

They are speaking to one another. Whether you know
Their language or not is immaterial. They know yours.

Poof poof poof!
Sorrow dissolves in the chicken fat of daylight, the horns
Of taxicabs, a fat, old patzer standing at the street corner puffing
On a stogie, a poet clairvoyant with passion thrusting a piece
Of paper into a friend’s hand. Read this read this read this!

—Baron Wormser, “For the Yiddish Poets,” Scattered Chapters: New & Selected Poems (Sarabande Books, 2008)


careless with words

Are you too careless with language to be poet? Then again, that may be why you are a poet.


worse than being heckled

Oscar Wilde quipped that ‘a poet can survive anything but a misprint’. A corollary could be that a poetry reader can survive anything other than a noisy espresso machine.



How is it this online magazine ceased publication before I knew it existed?


literary milling

Whether it was a press or book mill, I couldn’t tell.


marble statue

Each of these new poems stands and prevails as a marble statue, a pure form in itself, delineated on all sides and locked into its own permanent contours, as the soul is locked into its mortal body. These poems—I shall only refer to the “Panther” and the “Carousel”—are carved out of the clumsy cold stone of their daylight brightness, like clear cameos, transparent only to the eye of the mind—structures of piercing hardness unknown heretofore in the German Lyric, the victory of knowing objectivity over the mere idea, the triumph, the ultimate triumph of language turned into total plasticity. Every single object stands there in its own immovable gravity...

—Stefan Zweig, Farewell to Rilke (Friends of the Daniel Reed Library, State University College, Fredonia NY, 1975), translated by Marion Sonnenfeld.

[Rainer Maria Rilke fans should scare up a copy of this pamphlet. It’s hagiography but of the highest form. Stefan Zweig is a beautiful prose stylist, and this was his memorial oration for Rilke delivered in Munich in 1927.]


grand manner

If you are going to get grandiose be expansive to the point of comic exaggeration or else be extravagant in the generosity of your vision.


sane over strange

I favor a poetry that proves itself sane over the poetry that is patently strange.


not literature per se

What Blake was writing was his universe.


missing matter

A poem that seems to have three times as many words than it has.


carpet paradigm

We can see the farthest development of Glasgow painting in the work of Edward Hornel, George Henry and David Gauld around 1889-90…In these canvases a fine line was trodden between decoration and narrative, and between a deep pictorial space and the shallow colour field. As one German critic noted, these works ‘approach the border where painting ends and the Persian carpet begins.

[….] we are concerned with a greater degree of abstraction and with the growing autonomy of pictorial elements and decorative motifs. This principle of convergence has been called the ‘carpet paradigm’. By the mid-1880s, for a painting to be likened to a carpet or tapestry was, in Post-Impressionist circles, a singular point of praise.

—David Brett, C. R. Mackintosh, The Poetics of Workmanship (Harvard Univ. Press, 1992)


belief system

For a poet language is creed.


sleep derived

You call it a dream poem, but aren’t they all?


one's time as poet

Perhaps one is a poet only for that brief duration when the new poem is read aloud.


before color

He was a visionary in black & white, sometimes sepia.


poet before philosopher

Here Coleridge encounters, in thoroughly existential fashion, anxiety itself. He cannot pin down this anxiety, cannot attach it to any definite object, event, or person; it is the revelation of void or non-being:

  A grief without a pang, void, dark, and drear,
    A stifled, drowsy, unimpassioned grief,
    Which find no natural outlet, no relief,
      In words, or sight, or tear—

All the German idealism, with which poor Coleridge’s head was crammed had nothing to say to him about this experience; it did not even provide the terms necessary for its philosophic comprehension. Kierkegaard had no yet introduced the analysis of dread into philosophy. Coleridge the poet, however, saw and knew before Coleridge the philosopher.

—William Barrett, Irrational Man: A Study of Existential Philosophy (Anchor Books/Random House, 1962)


poet's statement

A convention of art exhibits is for the artist to write an ‘artist’s statement’ to accompany the work being shown. Often the document is only a couple paragraphs in length and it explains (or tries to explain) the artist’s motives and thought process behind the work being presented. Given that artists, visual by nature, must struggle to produce even these short tracts, I think that poets would be well served if they composed similar documents to be included with each new book of poems.


shaker poem

Spare in design, elemental in material, and elegant in its function: a Shaker poem.


sonic mechanics

The gears of rhythm driving the chain of thought.