block poem

The poem was a block of words and where it was placed it stood firm.


reader's perogative

When one reads a lot it should not be a surprise, or even a source of consternation, when one’s words happen to echo those of others. A reader doesn't worry when his own words go so far as to paraphrase or to inadvertently plagiarize the words of other writers.


kept his plates fair

We Followers saw things from Whistler’s standpoint. If he etched a plate, we had to etch it almost exactly on Whistlerian lines. If Whistler kept his plates fair, ours were so fair that they could scarcely be seen. If Whistler adopted economy of means using the fewest possible lines, we became so nervous that we could scarcely touch the plate lest we should overelaborate.

—Mortimer Menpes, Whistler As I Knew Him (Hol Arts Book, 2009)


for the very first time

As the conceptualist explained the various ideas behind his project, we nodded and pretended to be discovering these notions for the first time.


the power to cow

The function of a blurb is to so overpraise the book that any reader would feel ashamed at being underwhelmed upon reading the book.


ambit and order

Romantic in scope, classical in construction.


night entries

Was it a good or bad thing that writing in his journal helped him fall asleep?


resonant space

I have chosen the second path, the path of encounter between inner and outer. What is important in this kind of art is to limit the parts of the work I make, accept the parts I do not make, and create a dynamic relationship in which these aspects both interpenetrate and repel each other. I hope that this relationship will lead to the opening up of a poetic, critical, and transcendent space.

I call this art yohaku—emptiness (resonant space).

What I mean by yohaku is not simply the space that is left vacant in the paintings of many painters. Such a space is lacking in reality. For example, if a drum is struck, the sound reverberates into empty space. The space of this vibration, including the drum, is what I call yohaku.

—Lee Ufan, “Yohaku—Emptiness,” The Art of Encounter (Lisson Gallery, 2004)

[Marking Infinity exhibit at the Guggenheim.]


bear pit

The workshop group was trying to tame the poem when they should have been provoking it with sharp sticks.


carriage return

If you were born before about 1965, and you were a young writer, then your typewriter probably holds a similar status to that of your first girl/boyfriend.


dither and drone

The poem’s fragments buzzed around my head like flies. I never felt I would be harmed by them or that I could catch them and hold them, but I had the urge to swat them down just to make them stop their incessant dither and drone.


wrong message

Bad backdrop for a poetry reader: A door with a red glowing EXIT sign over it.


not passing through

But the poet does not write chiefly for his own generation; he must therefore write about permanent things, or things that are permanent because they are perpetually renewed, like grass and humanity. The most important part of a poem is the subject; and permanence is the one essential element in the subject of poetry.

—Robinson Jeffers, fragment "Preface" to Continent's End


don't look back

Not a good sign that line by line I felt the words vanishing behind me.


more is more

I'm against opulent poetry just as I'm against opulent houses.


safe for now

In my notebook, I established a ‘rescue pound’ for abused and neglected words.


making magic

All the magic in the making.


hard looks

What you look hard at seems to look hard at you, hence the true and false instress of nature.

—Gerard Manley Hopkins, The Journals of Gerard Manley Hopkins (Oxford U. Press, 1959, p. 204) edited by H. House and G. Storey


seemed close enough to touch

The critics were small cold and stony satellites perpetually orbiting that great green and blue planet that was the poet.



The poem seemed to have some life while it was passed around in typescript, while under consideration, and as yet subject to revision. But once the poem was published that was the last seen of it.