deflategate: please squeeze harder

Reading through various poetry books one wishes that more poets preferred their books with less air in them.


flight granted

Imagination exists only by the grace of experience.



Not just sprinkled on; images ingrained in the lines.


love solved

There is little that a good love poem cannot solve.


a door and a window

My sense of the poem is rather classic. I think of a beginning, a middle and an end. I don't believe in open form. A poem may be open, but then it doesn't have form. Merely to stop a poem is not to end it. I don't want to suggest that I believe in neat little resolutions. To put a logical cap on a poem is to suffocate its original impulse. Just as the truly great piece of architecture moves beyond itself into its environment, into the landscape and the sky, so the kind of poetic closure that interests me bleeds out of its ending into the whole universe of feeling and thought. I like an ending that's both a door and a window.

—Stanley Kunitz, "The Art of Poetry No. 29," an interview by Chris Busa, The Paris Review (Spring 1982, No. 83)


fitted lines

Like in a New England stone wall, the rough edges of words will be what makes them fit together.


words without import

Wordplay and other forms of pseudo-poetry.



In a poem the aphorism is best when it comes sotto voce.


didn't see that coming

The best images are those you thought beneath notice.


experimental me

One suspects he spends more energy asserting his experimental stance than actually writing anything one would recognize as being outside the pattern and practice of contemporary poetry.


everything a door

Everything is a door
all one needs is the light push of thought
Something's about to happen
               said one of us


Everything is a door
              everything a bridge
now we are walking on the other bank
down there look runs the river of centuries
the river of signs
There look runs the river of stars
embracing splitting joining again
they speak to each other in a language of fire
their struggles and loves
are creations and destructions of entire worlds

—Octavio Paz, "Clear Nights" from Salamander, in The Collected Poems of Octavio Paz, 1957-1987 (New Directions, 1987) edited by Eliot Weinberger.


covered bridges

Poetry and covered bridges and other anachronistic but beautiful things.


official sanction

A poet who spoke of publication as though a kind of imprimatur.


brick by brick

Each stanza a brick in the architecture of the poem.


uncorralable lines

A poetry no critic could contain by prose alone.


it hovers forever there

Time seen through the image is time lost from view. Being and time are quite different. The image shimmers eternal, when it has outstripped being and time.

—RenĂ© Char, “Leaves of Hypnos,” Furor and Mystery & Other Writings (Black Widow Press, 2010), translated by May Ann Caws and Nancy Cline.


critical respect

At least acknowledge its accomplishment on its own terms, before denigrating what it is based on your aesthetics.


uneven ends

The ragged right edge of the poem is reminder of our art’s imperfection.


affective force

Only emotion will enliven the lines.


boing and begin again

Your eyes leapt up to the first line at the instant the poem was finished, certain it must be reread.