cause of death

To a poet suicide is death by a natural cause.


money pit

Are manuscript contest entry fees and other submission fees draining the disposable income that poets have for buying poetry books?


in closing

If nothing else, the last line has pride of place.


breeze of surprise

     There are so many ways to go, the detectives know, opposition and conflict, theories drifting over and beyond one another. Things changed by the act of observation. The old laws of physics. Speed and position. Time and distance.
     They will comb through images, looking for any random detail, the breeze of surprise, a clue. The more obscure the moment, the more valuable the knowledge. There is always a chance they will spot something they already overlooked.
     They work in much the same way as poets: the search for a random word, at the right instance, making the poem itself much more precise.

—Colum McCann, Thirteen Ways of Looking (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015).



One might say the last two lines of that sonnet were ‘the odd couplet’.


public storage space

The prose poem’s great flaw is that it’s anything and all.


cast out

A poem that was read as though it were a magic spell.


personal library

I visited the reestablished Thomas Jefferson Library in the Library of Congress yesterday. Some titles have not been replaced from the original catalog. Jefferson ordered his books according to Lord Bacon's system of the subject areas: Memory, Reason, and Imagination. Jefferson used the categories "History," "Philosophy," and "Fine Arts."


ticking line

Meter is a lateral clock.


core story

The poem was a thumbnail novel.


echo chamber

That is, in poetry more than in any other verbal genre, readers bring an expectation that not only do all the elements matter down to the comma and the white space at the end of a line and between or within stanzas, but that each of those elements, no matter how widely arrayed, may tug at other elements and condition the whole. The poem is an echo chamber where we listen to the reverberations that otherwise dissolve into the white noise of anxiety.

—Lee Upton, “Poetry, Defined. Briefly.” Swallowing the Sea: On Writing & Ambition Boredom Purity & Secrecy (Tupelo Press, 2012)


comedy club

I couldn’t be sure if he was a critic or a heckler.

[Thinking of William Logan.]


battle lines

There are many ways to go wrong in writing a political poem, but the number is no greater than those encountered in writing a love poem.


press press pull

Each line a lever in that strange contraption called a poem.


passing fancy

Engaged in a language dalliance.


the fruit

The Fruit

This is how I want the poem to be:
trembling with light, coarse with earth,
murmuring with waters and with wind.

—Eugénio de Andrade, 28 Portuguese Poets (Dedalus Press, Dublin, 2015), translated by Richard Zenith and Alexis Levtin.

Os Frutos

Assim eu queria o poema:
frementa de luz, áspero de terra,
rumoroso de águas e de vento.


hard cases

He wrote poems with words that don’t fit well into poems.


nth sense

Poetry is a human sensory faculty as yet not fully understood.


late bloomer

Sometimes one of the best poets of a previous century only emerges in the next.

[Thinking of the Frost.]


giant killer

A haiku that could humble a poem of a hundred lines.