willed lines

Let will summons the lines that inspiration was unable to call forth.


anger management

Call my poem a ‘text’ one more time and I’ll knock your teeth out.


wear and tear reader

He didn’t just read poems he wore them out.


pattern language

A pattern that matters.


some words on a page

I want to give you
something I’ve made

some words on a page—as if
to say 'Here are some blue beads’

or, 'Here's a bright red leaf I found on
the sidewalk” (because

to find is to choose, and choice
is made).

—Denise Levertov, “The Rights,” Here & Now (1957), reprinted in the Collected Earlier Poems 1940–1960 (New Directions, 1979)


eternal question

To explore the tradition or to try to explode it?


cross purposes

A poem that insists on translation even as it resists one at every turn.


utterance not to be undone

The line that is a lie. Yet resists strikethrough utterly.


singular event

That point in composing when you know no poem is going to be like this one.


spare change

The poet always has one more word in his pocket.


time and the visible

Painting is the art which reminds us that time and the visible come into being together, as a pair. The place of their coming into being is the human mind, which can coordinate events into a time sequence and appearances into a world seen. With this coming into being of time and the visible, a dialogue between presence and absence begins. We all live this dialogue.

—John Berger, The Success and Failure of Picasso (Vintage, 1993)


type parameter

Bad typography can damage the text, but good/fancy typography cannot appreciably improve it.


well behaved

Perhaps the poem was too polite.


novel idea

Somehow early on the aphorist realized a novel was out of the question.


new poetry

To go back to that time when one was discovering a new passage, a new poet, almost every day.


landscape and weather

By 1969 Richard Hugo had completed his third and even his fourth book of poems. As we must expect, it is the Northwest poems which conduct Hugo’s trial by landscape, his arraignment by weather, to a further pitch of excruciation: the menace of place is acknowledged to correspond to destructive energies in the self….

—Richard Howard, “Richard Hugo: Why Track Down Unity When The Diffuse Is So Exacting?,” Alone With America: Essays on the Art of Poetry in the United States Since 1950 (Atheneum, 1980)


part of the whole

A good political poem manages to make the specific events that provoked it part of an ongoing universal struggle.


prayed poetry

He didn't read the poems so much as he prayed them.


gender gerrymandering

Remember that time you picked up an anthology and three-quarters of the poets included were women. No, because it didn’t happen. It’s either a 100% women, as in a specifically woman-centric antholology, or it’s well under 50% women.


category error

All the better because it wouldn’t be a poem.


candid kind

Last night we had the Nineteenth Wallace Stevens Birthday Bash at the Hartford Public Library. The guest speaker was Maureen N. McLane and she gave a wonderful talk. One of the poems featured in her talk was section III from "Notes toward a Supreme Fiction." An excerpt:

     The poem refreshes life so that we share,
     For a moment, the first idea . . . It satisfies
     Belief in an immaculate beginning

     And sends us, winged by an unconscious will,
     To an immaculate end. We move between these points:
     From that ever-early candor to its late plural

     And the candor of them is the strong exhilaration
     Of what we feel from what we think, of thought
     Beating in the heart, as if blood newly came,

     An elixir, an excitation, a pure power.
     The poem, through candor, brings back a power again
     That gives a candid kind to everything.