gulf and gift

Art should begin with aspiration for perfect execution, but end with acceptance of the gift of what is given.


application checklist

I see you have three blurbs on the back of your book, just like the three letters of recommendation you needed to get into graduate school.


exploded limits

Poetry is the dance of truth among limits which are its occasion and which it explodes.

—Lewis Thompson, Fathomless Heart: The Spiritual and Philosophical Reflections of an English Poet-Sage (DharmaCafe Books/North Atlantic Books, 2011), edited with an introduction by Richard Lannoy


ever undefined

It is often cited that the root of the word poetry comes from the Greek term poïesis meaning “to make.” But make how? And make what? So much lies undisclosed in the concept of mere ‘making’.


testament not commentary

Only those who believe in poetry write the significant poems; the rest are writing a kind of poetic criticism/commentary in the form of a poem.


erotic entanglement

That poem had it going on, with its erotic Kama Sutra syntax.


en plein air

A nature poem in which you could see sky behind the text.


inconspicuous and overlooked

Originally, the Japanese words “wabi” and “sabi” had quite different meanings. “Sabi” originally meant “chill,” “lean,” or “withered.” “Wabi” originally meant the misery of living alone in nature, away from society, and suggested a discouraged, dispirited, cheerless emotional state. Around the 14th century, the meanings of both words began to evolve in the direction of more positive aesthetic values. The self-imposed isolation and voluntary poverty of the hermit and ascetic came to be considered opportunities for spiritual richness. For the poetically inclined, this kind of life fostered an appreciation of the minor details of everyday life and insights into the beauty of the inconspicuous and overlooked aspects of nature. In turn, unprepossessing simplicity took on new meaning as the basis for a new, pure beauty.

—Leonard Koren, Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers (Impermanence Publishing, 2008)


unselfish reflection

A reflective poem that was not a mirror on the poet’s life.


meditative means

Meditation that doesn’t drift, meditation that directs and apprehends.



Be patient and observe. Wait and listen. Hold it and be still. Place it on your tongue. Then breathe in.


anachronistic turn

The kind of line break so fashionable back in the day, you thought you could hear the faint echo of a carriage return bell at the turn.


responding with poetry

Within the diaries…there will be occasional moments when one senses a contrast in moving from poem to prose to poem, but the contrast is surely no greater than that from aria to recitative to aria, and it is usually less. One reason for such smoothness of movement between different literary modes is that the Japanese are so given, or were so given, to responding with poetry that there is a naturalness and integrity in combining the modes. Another reason is that the diary prose itself, through art, shades off from fact at one side of the narrow margin to fiction on the other side. When art is made to seem natural, or when the actual is rendered into full art, the margin becomes less important than the achievement.

—Earl Miner, Japanese Poetic Diaries (U. of California Press, 1969)


low carb

The poem was almost all nouns. Digested like a high-protein diet.


dwelling places

A poem is made of dwell words.


and then came this

For any valid definition of poetry, wait awhile, and another poem will come along to disprove the case.


drama within narrative

Narrative subsumes drama; the story told in scenes, characters, and voices.


complex but easy to carry

The proof of poetry was, in [James Russell] Lowell's mind, that it reduced to the essence of a single line the vague philosophy that floated in all men's minds, so as to render it portable and useful, ready to the hand.

—Matthew Pearl, The Dante Club (Random House. 2003, p.34)


out there, up there

I knew his work was kind of dreamy but then he told me all his poems were in the cloud.


sound the leaves make

At times meaning is no more than a wind moving through the forest of the alphabet.


juggling act

In our best art, the organizing force and chaos are held in an uneasy counterbalance.