not so simple

The desire I have to astonish is offset by an attraction to the simple.


inhabited poetry

Iris Murdoch conceived of an ‘inhabited philosophy’. Likewise, I’m in favor of an inhabited poetry. Poetry as a place to explore human concerns and not wholly a space where language reigns.


write for the ear

I have spent my life in clearing out of poetry every phrase written for the eye, and bringing all back to the syntax that is for the ear alone.
"Write for the ear," I thought, "so that you may be instantly understood, as when actor or folk-singer stands before an audience."

—W. B. Yeats, “An Introduction for My Plays” (1937, but not published until 1961 in Essays & Introductions).

[n.b.: I went to a presentation by Deanie Rowan Blank on W.B. Yeats today at the Hartford Public Library, and this quote came up. So I ran down the source and posted it.]


name game

Pushkin without the push, Wordsworth without the word, Larkin without the lark, Ashbery without the ash,...


narrowed to error

Constraints are both opportunities for escape and discovery and pinch points where many forced errors occur.


dappled things

The only kind of poetry that is poor is poetry of one kind.


enemy of the poetic

Count me as an enemy of the overly poetic and the overtly poetic.


public property

What else are poetry and thinking than someone making his own life into public property, into a life which everyone else can live and enjoy as their own too, making his essence into directly beholdable objects of not only himself, but also of others?

—Ludwig Feurbach, Abelard and Heloise, or: The Writer and the Human (Gegensatz Press, 2012), translated with introduction by Eric v. d. Luft, with a foreword by Angela Moreira.


target exposed

The plagiarist’s target was an unknown, but after the theft was noticed for the first time.


stealing from the poor

The plagiarist is most damned by stealing from the unknown and underappreciated. The plagiarist hasn’t the guts to rip off one of the renowned, because the exposure would be swift and pitiless.


lifted lines

By deceit the plagiarist shows respect for the text.


mask donned

Poetic language often falsifies poetic content.



He had settled comfortably into believing himself one of the avant-garde.


equal letters

A correspondence between equals is of most interest.


improve the blank page

Young Poets

Write as you will
In whatever style you like
Too much blood has run under the bridge
To go on believing
That only one road is right.

In poetry everything is permitted.

With only this condition of course,
You have to improve the blank page.

—Nicanor Parra, Poems and Antipoems (New Directions, 1966), trans. by Miller Williams.


never to late

The last line thrown like a life preserver to the flailing and gasping reader.


nonce only

He had a knack for neologisms that made the existing word-stock seem ample.


time out to look up

Being driven to the dictionary by many words in a difficult poem proved to be a blessing, as it gave one time to mull over or to rest the mind, before beginning again.


language games

Be it Oulipo or the Ouija board, devices will only generate language devices.


spiced dish

In cooking the proper use of spices is important to many dishes, and so it is that poets in English should make use of foreign words and phrases to enliven their pieces.