confident strut

Poet, stride the line like a model walks a runway.


with one word

Leaning in a corner of the room, I saw the word “reconciliation” painted in neat letters on a board. I start to worry about my brain when I experience a single word as a self-contained poem.


skeleton showing

In traditional Japanese architecture some of the skeleton of the structure is left exposed, and the same is true of a good poem.


not one or whole

Few great medieval buildings are homogeneous, since they are the work of many generations of artists. This is widely recognized by historians, although theoreticians of culture have innocently pointed to the conglomerate cathedral of Chartres as a model of stylistic unity, in contrast to the heterogeneous character of stylelessness of the arts of modern society. In the past it was not felt necessary to restore a damaged work or to complete an unfinished one in the style of the original. Hence the strange juxtapositions of styles within some medieval objects. It should be said, however, that some styles, by virtue of their open, irregular forms, can tolerate the unfinished and heterogeneous better than others.

--Meyer Schapiro, “Style.” The Problem of Style (Fawcett Publications, 1966) edited by J.V. Cunningham.


necessary influence

The young poet worried that if he read too much of X, his work would become overly influenced by X. He should be so lucky.


novel distilled

The poem as a novel distilled to its essential paragraph.


gifts waiting to be filled

Because people know I write, I’m often gifted with a nice blank notebook. Now so many of them line one bookshelf near my desk…all full of unmarked pages, asking that I mar them with my words.



not refined but final

So active, so positive is the inspiration of this poetry that the question of outside influences does not even arise. Unamumo is probably the Spanish contemporary poet whose manner owes least, if anything at all, to modern developments of poetry such as those which take their source in Baudelaire and Verlaine. These over-sensitive and over-refined artists have no doubt enriched the sensuous, the formal, the sentimental, even the intellectual aspects of verse with an admirable variety of exquisite shades, lacking which most poetry seems old-fashioned to the fastidious palate of modern men. Unamuno is too genuine a representative of the spiritual and masculine variety of Spanish genius, ever impervious to French, and generally, to intellectual, influences, to be affected by the esthetic excellence of this art. Yet, for all his disregard of the modern resources which it adds to the poetic craft, Unamuno loses none of his modernity. He is indeed more than modern. When, as he often does, he strikes the true poetic note, he is outside time. His appeal is not in complexity but in strength. He is not refined: he is final.

—Salvador de Madariaga, introduction to Miguel de Unamuno’s Tragic Sense of Life (McMillian, 1921)


house and city

If the poem is the house, the book is the city.


new you know

One would think innovative and experimental work would be self-evident, but it seems necessary for some writers to describe their work that way.


slave song

By the time you have ended labor upon your poem, to your ears it should be as though a slave song.


poems not compensation enough

As much as I might admire their poetry, when I read the biographies of certain poets who lived sad or bad lives, I think I’d rather be a happy person than a poet.


while scrubbing the floor

One’s best things are more than likely to come in the midst of floor scrubbing.

—Wallace Stevens, Letters of Wallace Stevens (Knopf, 1966, p. 450)


beauty be

The whole project of 'aesthetics' is in many ways about defining beauty. The problem is not ‘the trying to define’; the problem is thinking there is a fixed immutable definition upon which all will settle and all debate will cease. It's all the 'talk about' that creates its own kind of value.


noise one can't ignore

Like one’s conscience, political poetry is that little nagging voice in the back of society’s head.


rime on time

In the worst use of form you’ll find you’re reading ahead to see what the next rhyming word will be.


cornerstone word

Upon this word I will build my poem. (after Matthew 16:13)


sensuous sounds

A poem so lascivious with its sounds I felt my earlobes being fondled.