when it all fits

Strange—we are always inhabiting more than one realm of existence—but they all fit in if the art is right.

—Lorine Niedecker, in a letter to Cid Corman, quoted in Radical Vernacular: Lorine Niedecker and the Poetics of Place edited by Elizabeth Willis.


original small batch producer

Poetry was way ahead of the craft and artisanal movement.


balance of interests

An image you’ve never experienced versus a well-worn image made new.


long run

Initially a small print run, but never out of print since.


real time

Revision may be retrospective, but composition is always done in real time.


empire poetry

Poetry, I’m afraid, is the apotheosis of lingual colonialism, as it colonizes all forms of literary output. No language poses impediment and whether elevated or common or neutral speech, it takes and remakes without pity or regret.


material failure

There are things we believe or think we believe or want to believe which will not substantiate themselves in the concrete material of the poem.

—George Oppen, letter to John Taggart, The Selected Letters of George Oppen (Duke U. Press, 1990), edited by Rachel Blau DuPlessis


pickpockets practice magic tricks too

The publisher tries to explain away his prize-winning author’s plagiarisms as instances of careless ‘intertextuality’.


major rhetoric

The dream of a great poem made solely from superior rhetoric.


not sic transit it sticks

An image must do one thing: it must remain in the reader’s mind.


too close

If you hew to another’s style, you risk parody when you meant homage.


the good fight

The announcement flyer for “Poetry of Resistance” pictured an older poet, sitting in a comfortable chair, bookcases behind him, his dog at his knee: “To the barricades!”


no system

Nietzsche is the one modern philosopher whom the layman has a fair chance of understanding. Perhaps that makes him not a philosopher. Perhaps it makes him a poet. (A non sequitur.) Or is there a connection in this sphere between being understandable and being insane?

Commenting on the unresolved contradictions in Nietzsche’s writing, H.G. Schenk describes what he has left us as ‘the intellectual echo of the recurrent oscillations of his soul, observed with utmost sensitivity’. In introducing Human, All Too Human in R.J. Hollingdale’s translation, Erich Heller remarks that even the most impressive philosophical systems is perched uncomfortably on a throne of rock-bottom stupidity, the self-induced narrow-mindedness which leads man to believe that he, a small part of an immense world, is capable of making absolutely coherent sense of it all. Heller is championing aphorisms, which, through their brevity, achieve ‘a kind’ of finality, one which we know, the world being so immense, isn’t more than a kind of. One effect of eluding narrow-mindedness and resisting schematization, something more commonly observed in poets…

—D. J. Enright, Interplay: a kind of commonplace book (Oxford Univ. Press, 1995)


scribble scrabble

When he wasn’t scribbling, he was scrabbling. Part of the scribble-scrabble rabble.


larger than life

The image may be of something small or minor, but becomes monumental by the unique perspective of the seeing.


getting ahead of myself

Another one of those self-anointed avant-garde.


end stop line

Elegy for the formalist: He gave us his last full measure.


between two poles

Poetry pulled by the aesthetic poles of speech and song.


all art

Little by little, pictures encumbered all the rooms, till only a room or two was left for the purposes of the man who required to eat, sleep, entertain his friends. Little by little the hours in which he was still the man whom he was so well, became rarer. His house was already almost a museum, his flesh and blood little more than the place where a work of art was being accomplished.

—Marcel Proust “Gustave Moreau,” Marcel Proust on Art and Literature, 1896-1919 (Dell Publishing Co., 1964), translated by Sylvia Townsend Warner.