harper's logan lite

After reading this piece in Harper’s, Poetry Slam, being an avid reader of contemporary poetry, criticism and reviews of same, my first response was to the by-line: Who’s he, I said to myself, and why am I interested in his critical take on the state of contemporary poetry? I still can’t answer that one. From a quick check of Edmundson’s credentials (on-line) I determined that, other than being an English professor at a major university, he seems to have little or no background in the field of contemporary poetry (which becomes evident by the poets he cites and his severely limited viewpoint). Edmundson is neither a poet actively engaged in the art, nor is he a well-published critic or reviewer of contemporary poetry.

What was Harper’s agenda in publishing this piece of drive-by criticism? To stir things up among contemporary poets? Not the biggest playground to trot out an unknown no-nothing bully onto. I guess someone more qualified, like William Logan, wasn’t available. Because I think of Edmundson as a William Logan wannabe, one who is trying to take a shortcut to the role of naysayer without doing the requisite reviewing, the thrashing and trashing, that Logan has done over the years.


let none set asunder

The metaphor is an unholy yoking that somehow holds true.


forces equal

First a workshop should be a force-field of informed and attentive intellects, one that the poet recognizes her/his poem must be strong enough to resist.


world view

after Bronk

to gather

a world —

not the


—Joseph Massey
Big Bridge #12


lost then found

Many, many poems must be lost in order that a few may be found, and remembered.


bio note

He is a wildly-unanthologized poet whose work has not appeared in Poetry, APR and The Paris Review. Critics have been unable to find fault with his work because they’ve been unable to find any. His prizes include a blue ribbon earned in the third grade for the poem “Lollipop” and the $100 scratch-off lottery card he got at the gas station.


concept emotes

A conceptual poem needn’t lack emotion.


just jossing

Wallace Stevens once quipped (in his “Adagia”), “Poetry is a kind of money.” Which always makes me wonder, What kind of currency?: Confederate?, counterfeit?, or joss money? Yes, joss, I think I can smell it burning to favor the dead.


gauging the language

As long as a reader can feel through the language that the poet knows something important is going on, the reader will go along. As soon as the reader senses that what is behind the language is trivial, all is lost.


zero point

It is evident that poetry shares with all speech that is language-like an incompetence with respect to consummatory states of experience. All indicators of temporaliity—including the present tense—signify distance from the origin of experience…As evidence of this, consider the following very simple observation: there are many poems of not yet having (petitional poems, as it were, or poems of seduction), and there are also poems (though proportionally to the first type many fewer) of having had (doxological poems as it were, e.g., the aubade). But there are no poems (certainly no Western poems) situated upon the zero point of having, of union just so. At that moment, the coincidence of consciousness and experience, language disappears and with it representation as depiction….

—Allen Grossman, “Hard Problems in Poetry, Especially Valuing,” True-Love: Essays on Poetry and Valuing (U. of Chicago Press, 2009)


eternal singer

Whenever I hear the personal I-lyric denigrated by this or that theoretical notion, my mind flashes on Sappho, and like Solon (the Wise) I think I’ll die happy.


trading deadline

The MFA program traded its masthead Pulitzer Prize winner, a prima-donna by all accounts, for two poets with Pushcarts and a Lannan fellow to be named later.


voice over vanity

For me, poetry is the voice that supersedes vanity. To concentrate exclusively on “American poetry” can ignore the vast expanse of immigrant sounds bearing punctuated rhythms or haunting, free-floating tunes. Music introduces the meaning, and carries languages both harsh and melodious, its premonitions understood only in retrospect.

—Laura Manuelidis, "The XYZ of Hearing: The Squid’s Ink,” Poetry (July/August, 2013)


conceptual life

Vanessa Placeholder, until something better comes along.

[See: "Poetry is dead, I killed it"]

random acts of poetry

When he got back to his parked car, he thought he’d been given a ticket, but someone had stuck a poem under one of the wiperblades.


uses of erudition

A scholarly erudition employed for uncovering versus a speculative erudition used for discovery.


information please

It’s not that the poetry was prose that was the problem. Good prose can equal or even exceed poetry on many levels. The problem was that this particular prose was unwilling to give up its inherent attachment to information: prose with its natural empathy for the reader’s need to know more. Poetry is always too ready to ignore the reader’s need for information.


parodic critic

Is criticism only a kind of parody? A secondary text that even as it calls into question marks itself as quasi.


went through

Only one thing remained reachable, close and secure amid all losses: language. Yes, language. In spite of everything, it remained secure against loss. But it had to go through its own lack of answers, through terrifying silence, through the thousand darknesses of murderous speech. It went through. It gave me no words for what was happening, but went through it. Went through and could resurface, 'enriched‎’ by it all.

In this language I tried, during those years and the years after, to write poems: in order to speak, to orient myself, to find out where I was, where I was going, to chart my reality.

—Paul Celan, "Edgar Jené and The Dream About The Dream," Collected Prose (Carcanet, 1986), translated by Rosmarie Waldrop


redundant dummy

Why does the introducer read a whole poem by the poet he’s about to introduce?


title peel

The title was a bad roof in need of a tear off.