poetry reading patter

Not matter the merits of the poetry itself, no denying he was a master of the poetry reading patter.


grief strikethrough

It wouldn’t be right if you didn’t suffer a pang at striking certain phrases.


sting's library

Did you grow up with a lot of books?

Sting: We only had two in the house, an illustrated Old Testament and Volume 1 of Encyclopaedia Britannica. I was well versed in everything from “aardvark” to “azimuth,” but little else. The public library became a sort of refuge. I never throw a book away now. I have kept every dog-eared paperback I have ever read. Books are the only things I’m acquisitive about. And no, I don’t lend my books...join the library!

“Sting: By the Book,” interview in New York Times Book Review (September 19, 2013)


ta tum ta tum ta tum ta tum ta tum

The line's meter like a street with speed bumps.


wallpaper poetry

The poetry book was a wallpaper sample book. Full of nice patterns and lovely colors, comfortable to live with.


obsess and haunt

It is the mysterious that I love painting. It is the stillness and the silence. I want my pictures to take effect very slowly, to obsess and to haunt.

—William Baziotes, “Notes on Painting,” It Is (No. 4, Autumn, 1959)

It is the mysterious that I love poetry. It is the movement and the silence. I want my poems to take effect very slowly, to obsess and to haunt.


long cast

The long line cast as though by a fly rod over the stream at a shimmer or shadow just under the surface.


sound heavy

He had so much similar rime going on in the poem, I suggested he should ‘echonomize’.


poetry encounter

I know it as poetry when I encounter those compressed expressions marked by nuance, impossible to explain adequately in prose.


good for too

When a good couplet comes together it’s the simultaneous orgasm of language.


dedication denied

A couple hours later, at Pegasus Books on Solano Avenue in Berkeley, I’m not particularly happy either. I’m hunkered down in the poetry section and see two of my books on the shelf: Home Course in Religion and Junior College. I open the first book to the title page, where I have personalized the copy to Claire. Who was Claire? I wonder. I open the second book, which I’ve apparently dedicated to Toby. Perhaps Toby was Claire’s dog?

I leave the bookstore, my shadow tagging along as if it were a friend. At home I count my blessings. My teeth remain in neat rows and my knuckles continue to knock on doors—I do possess ambition. I’m thin. I’m courteous when it counts. I have a wife who loves me almost all the hours of the day.

But I do notice that the hair on my scalp has thinned and my once muscled chest is now part of my padded abs. I’m losing some of myself, piece by piece. My legs, however, still stand with me, two faithful troopers. And my talent remains: at the count of three, I can whip the horse inside me and begin down a path in search of a poem. True, it was only last week I received a rejection slip from a literary magazine in the Midwest no one has heard of, but still!

—Gary Soto, “Reporting On Our Bodies,” What Poets Are Like: Up and Down of the Writing Life (Sasquatch Books, 2013)


attica, attica

A word that’s stuck in the poem and seems to know it doesn’t belong there. Yet its uneasy fidgetiness gives energy to the whole poem.


fantasy while awaiting one's turn

I read my poem and everyone in the circle puts down his/her pen. Folding their hands almost in unison, they all lean forward, listening intently, as though hoping more words will be spoken. And then I awoke from my daydream during workshop, awaiting my turn.


ideal vessel

After reading an almost perfect one, it’s hard not to think of the sonnet as poetry’s ideal vessel.


bonbon mots

The poem served as a tray of bon mots.