from where

After all those years to still not know where poems come from.



they found you

Oh good, Simon Perchik and Lyn Lifshin have submitted work to your new journal. You’re really on the map now.


hero word

The hero in the poem is the word.


put to the test

Sartre, for example, wrote that I was the magus of phenomenology! I was delighted. It is true that I am sensitive to things, as Husserl says it—to things in themselves—but if I reacted that way, and a new school of young writers was needed to put this in its proper focus, in order for this to be partly understood today, if I confronted language with something neutral, something which had neither feelings nor ideas, I was doing it for man. If I placed language in front of something neutral, something which is not in itself poetic, it was simply to put it to the test. As simple as that…of course, I am sensitive to things, that’s clear, but I believe that in order to be a writer or any sort of artist, in any discipline, one has got to be sensitive to the exterior world, but also, and as much, one has got to be sensitive to the means of expression. My means of expression is language, and words the way they are; with their existence and their history, their semantical representation. And it is order to revitalize language that I place myself before something neutral, which is not yet poetical in it itself…

—Francis Ponge, in an 1972 interview, Francis Ponge: The Sun Placed in the Abyss (Sun, 1977), interview and translation by Serge Gavronsky.


early arrival

A poet commands a presence before the first word is spoken.


higher air

Poem as prayer rug. Poem as prayer flag. Poem as prayer air.


pun at his expense

He released a collected poems when a selected would do. But then, his work was always a little oeuvre the top.


too close

She began to think of him not as a critic but as a literary stalker.


expresses nothing

Beauty has as many meanings as man has moods. Beauty is the symbol of symbols. Beauty reveals everything because it expresses nothing. When it shows itself, it shows us the whole fiery-coloured world.

—Oscar Wilde, “The Critic as Artist”

n.b.: I was in San Francisco this week and went to see a major art exhibit at the Legion of Honor: "The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde 1860–1900." The quote above was printed on the wall in the first room.


take a side

Ultimately, the poet must decide whether to side with the word or the world.


renga gang

The haiku poet was a known rengaleader.


audience to the rescue

After the luridly personal poems were read, the audience wasn’t sure what to do with their hands, whether they should be clapping or scooping up the mess.


fat book

[Richard Wilbur flipping through his book at the podium] I’ve written far too much. I have to hunt through fat books to find a poem. [Finding the poem] Ah, this one is good enough.

—Richard Wilbur, transcribed from a remark he made during his reading at the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, June 2, 2012, Farmington CT.


not going anywhere

Poem: An array of words that won’t go away.