wild in ordered manner

Stevie [Smith] probably did read too much for her own happiness, but for her poetry the result was a well of association sunk through centuries. She also read a great deal outside of English, particularly in French, and especially Racine, whose decorous example helped inspire the finely calibrated play of tone which permitted her to run wild in an ordered manner.

—Clive James, “Stevie Smith: Not Drowning but Waving,” As Of This Writing: The Essential Essays, 1968-2002 (Norton, 2003)



Too much of a stoic to be a poet.


play ball

Baseball seems to be the sport favored by poets, especially in San Francisco.


closely held

A poem of one's own: its only reader the one who composed it.


before one

Egoless he came to poetry.


broken pieces

As we manipulate everyday words, we forget that they are fragments of ancient and eternal stories, that we are building our houses with broken pieces of sculptures and ruined statues of gods as the barbarians did.

—Bruno Schulz's "Letters and Other Writings," Regions of the Great Heresy: Bruno Schulz, a Biographical Portrait (Norton, 2002) by Jerzy Ficowski, translated by Theodosia Robertson.

See Art of Bruno Schulz.


gift or grit

When we admire an artist’s work, we weigh: What part gift, what part grit?


simple concept

The conceptual poem: Concept recognized. Next, please.


that ends it

The last line was a ‘walk off’ home run.


no know

And yet after my knowing "ah-ha,"
the poem retains
an everlasting je ne sais quoi.


and action

The poem enacts its prose script.


for a single word

The scene is a cliche
But the cliche is a reality


The desire to know
what it is that affects me


Ich warte immer nur
auf ein Wort
Wenn das wort gesagt ist
ist es mir schon genug

[I always wait
just for a single word
When the word has been said
that is good enough]


When the music and the
scratches are part of the
same thing

Peter Schmidt, selections from The Thoughts Behind The Thoughts (Mindmade Books, 2012)


inexhaustible window

In the frame of any one window there are a million poems.


melted celluloid

When it comes to composing an image cinema is both resource and reliquary.


sales quotas

One way to cut back on the superfluous poetry books being published would be to make it a rule that you have to sell 75% of the print run before you can publish another title. For print-on-demand books, the rule would be you must sell 250 copies (not counting extended family) before you can perpetrate another title.


stumbled upon

The images of a haiku should seem stumbled upon, encountered by happenstance; never as composed or arranged as though a set design.


never sure of arrival

Today I still love, even foolishly, the signs and wonders, felt presences or nearnesses of meaning, where we must follow, in trust, having no more sure a guarantee of our arrival than does the adventurer in a fairy or hero tale.

—Robert Duncan, Fictive Certainties (New Directions, 1985) p. 46


down to the underword

Poet, sometimes you must go down to and return with the ‘underword’.


straight line

Aphorism: a verse that won’t be turned.


step it up

Poetry books are thin. But I’ve found that for certain poets they function as lifts. After publishing, the poet stands a little taller, the poet strides forth with more confidence.