target language

As the translator of poetry painstakingly works through each poem, little does s/he know that a target is slowly being painted on her/his back.


symbol overwhelmed

The symbol succumbed to the image after the advent of mass media. The bear in the dog pit, the symbol was overwhelmed by the many images springing forth from photo journalism, motion pictures, television,...


recognized wrong

Thus a wrong—an injustice—done a poet who is really a poet, excites him to a degree which to ordinary apprehension appears disproportionate with the wrong. Poets see injustice, never where it does not exist, but very often where the unpoetical see no injustice whatever.

—Charles Baudelaire, “Further Notes on Edgar Poe,” The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays (Phaidon Press, 1964), translated and edited by Jonathan Mayne.


respect impetus

Unless you respect its essential impetus in the rewriting process, a poem may well be revised right out of existence.


see attached/enclosed

Quite a number of poets are more assiduous about submitting their work for publication than expending the efforts necessary to write better poetry.


voice reservoir

A poet with a deep reservoir of voices.


alpabetic roots

A poem’s roots are the alphabet.


bible thumper

A Bible-thumping formalist, he pounded on his Big Book of Forms. [Thinking of Lewis Turco]


unlimited refills

It’s true I was not writing…but I wasn’t blocked—I was simply refilling.


poem or compass

Poetry’s the compass of respect

—David Giannini, from "42 APHORISTICS," Talisman (Issue #41, 2012)


so let it

The poem will not end, so let it trail off. The poem will not resolve, so let it be a blur.


performance-enhanced poetics


With Lance Armstrong’s long-anticipated admission that he secretly ‘doped’ for years while competing at a high level in various international cycling events, it has come to light that other lesser known pursuits have also been influenced by this illicit practice. Recently there have been news reports stating that “even poets have begun taking various performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).” Among this new class of pharmaceuticals (often referred to as PoPEDs in the underground marketplace) it has been shown by urine tests, administered at random both in dingy restrooms of coffeehouses and in spotless university lavatories, that poets are increasingly experimenting with and using without prescription, the following trade-name drugs—

Iambian: This drug is said to cause the blood to pulse audibly in perfect iambic beats within the brain, which is said to lead directly to highly regular metrical compositions. As a possible side effect, some users have reported that their love-making has fallen into a fairly boring style.

Rimon: A derivative form of Echoal, this drug increases the ability to hear words in rhyming pairs. A common side effect is an inability to speak at length without going into a sing-song mode, otherwise it has been shown safe and effective, elective, erective detective…

Contestin: Although clinical trials have not shown the same results, users of this drug claim that their minds are able to control, from great distances, the selections made by contest screeners and judges. Side effects are mild, though some heavy users have reported a persistent ringing in their ears that sounds like Charlie Sheen repeating, “Winning. I’m, winning!”

Realitonine: Perhaps the most controversial of this class of drugs, this particular PED has been known to cause the user “to really believe” certain dire and life-altering events really happened to him/her. Confessional poetry of a very high (shriek level) order often results after using this drug, which, by convention, is mainlined with a hypodermic needle. So alarming is this practice, the Poetry Foundation has given hundreds of thousands in support of local needle exchange programs. Side effects: Estrangement from relatives and friends, visible tracks along the inner arm, as well as thoughts of suicide.



All poets dismiss Poetry magazine except for those rare issues in which their poems appear.


approximate realized

The ideal project does not exist, each time there is the opportunity to realize an approximation.

Paulo Mendes da Rocha

The ideal poem does not exist, each time there is the opportunity to realize an approximation.

[Mendes da Rocha quoted in The Architect Says (Princeton Architectural Press, 2012), compiled and edited by Laura S. Dushkes]


quid pro quo

If you pay for a book of poems you’re more likely to read it over one that has been given to you.


po papa

The Pope of poetry.


overly contented

Too content with her trove of compelling content.


pressure written

Perhaps nothing is worse for a poet than having too much time to write.


what matters

The words are ghosts; their meanings are matter.


what draft matters

There have been writers who did not believe in rewriting. They argue that the first step has been placed in the universe—it is there forever, unchangeable. But the second draft of the poem, and the third—are they not also placed in the universe? So the question of which draft is the best—that is, which moves people most strongly, seems most true—is still to be decided. The best draft may not be the first but the tenth, or the fortieth. The wish simply to speak and have it accepted as poetry is one with the child’s wish to utter a cry and be obeyed.

—Louis Simpson, “‘The Precinct Station’—Structure and Idea,” Ships Going into the Blue (The U. of Michigan Press, 1994)