no beginning and no end

A poet who fell in love with her process at the peril of all else.


nothing is safe

A poet is one for whom the whole world is metaphor fodder.


created an equivalent

I simply function when I take a picture. I do not photograph with preconceived notions about life. I put down what I have to say when I must. That is my role, according to my own way of feeling it. Perhaps it is beyond feeling.

What is of greatest importance is to hold a moment, to record something so completely that those who see it will relive an equivalent* of what has been expressed.


I want solely to make an image of what I have seen, not of what it means to me. It is only after I have created an equivalent of what moved me that I can begin to think about its significance.

Shapes, as such, do not interest me unless they happen to be an outer equivalent of something already taking form within me. To many, shapes matter in their own right. As I see it, this has nothing to do with photography, but with the merely literary or pictorial.

—Alfred Stieglitz, quoted by Dorothy Norman in Alfred Stieglitz (The History of Photography Series, Aperture, Inc., 1976).

*After 1922 Stieglitz used the term "Equivalents" to describe his photographic series of clouds.


go at it like that

Like words gouged into stone with fingernails.


slave labor language

Language easily becomes enslaved by falling into its habitual and customary means of expression. The poet breaks those word chains.


everything mien

A poet who scoffs at the uncontainability of the cosmos.


little pieces

A long poem that lives on by its excerpts.


silent tribute

Cavafy was as reticent and decorous in conversation as he was outspoken in his poetry—some things, he said, needed art to make them beautiful. But it is related that if a beautiful face showed itself in his house, he paid it the silent tribute of lighting another candle.

—Robert Liddell, “Studies in Genius, VII – Cavafy,” Horizon, Vol XVIII, 105, 1948.



It takes more than regular meter to give a heartbeat to a poem.


image machine

Perhaps the ascendance of the camera pushed painting to explore abstraction.


poetry third

The secret of being a great poet lies in having an abiding interest in the world and in humankind, and not in one’s attention to poetry.


obsessed or possessed

If only this poem would let me alone so that I might live.


mind the gap

Recall that audio admonishment inside the London Underground, ‘Mind the gap’: A metaphor’s power is ‘the gap’; and the mind must leap that gap.


embrace the anarchic

To make life...to create interest and vividness, it is necessary to break form, to distort pattern, to change the nature of our civilization. In order to create it is necessary to destroy; and the agent of destruction in society is the poet. I believe that the poet is necessarily an anarchist, and that he must oppose all organized conceptions of the State, not only those which we inherit from the past, but equally those which are imposed on people in the name of the future.

—Herbert Read, Poetry and Anarchism (Faber and Faber, 1938)


broken box

A poem is a genre wrecking literary instrument.


derived value

Perhaps the poem is a derivative product; its value pegged to human experience.


executable file

It may show up attached as .doc or .pdf, but a poem is really an .exe file.


ropes that rub

Paradox is apt to strike the poet as metaphor.


cased the joint

He cased the poem thoroughly like a good critic always does.


exploded world

Critics talking about ‘supertechnology’ and ‘the mediated eye’ in the seventies and eighties couldn’t know they were living in the Stone Age.


subtleties of the game

Gradually, in what at first had been purely mechanical repetitions of the championship matches, an artistic, pleasurable understanding began to awaken in me. I learned to understand the subtleties of the game [chess], the tricks and ruses of attack and defense, I grasped the technique of thinking ahead, combination, counter-attack, and soon I could recognize the personal style of every grandmaster as infallibly from his own way of playing a game as you can identify a poet’s verses from only a few lines.

—Stefan Zweig, Chess (Penguin Mini Modern Classics, 2011: Copyright Stephan Zweig 1943; translation copyright by Anthea Bell, 2006)


twenty-six tones

A whole alphabet of musical notes.


numbing mumble

Academic speak lacking the least spark of insight.