rule to judge

When, after having read a work, loftier thoughts arise in your mind and noble and heartfelt feelings animate you, do not look for any other rule to judge it by; it is fine and written in a masterly manner.

La Bruyère, Characters (Oxford U. Press, 1962), translated by Henri Van Laun.


ups and downs

He wrote his dissertation on the variations in iambic modulation.


not the territory

The poem is not the territory.

[Apologies to Alfred Korzybski.]


sense of arrival

To think not of the poem ending but to think of the poem arriving.


free the poets

I noticed that The Poetry Project’s reading space has prison bars on the windows.



Someone who wrote poems, not books.


safe house

Threatened or fugitive words will always find sanctuary within poems.


but would it take

A grafted-on line.


speck or flash

I begin my pictures under the effect of a shock that makes me escape from reality. The cause of this shock may be a tiny thread sticking up from the canvas, a falling drop of water, or print made by my finger on the shining surface of a table.

In any case, I need a point of departure, even if only a speck of dust or flash of light. This form produces a series of things, one giving birth to another.

And so a single thread can set a world in motion. I come to a world from something considered dead. And when I give it a title, it becomes even more alive.

Joan Miró, I Work Like a Gardener (Princeton Architectural Press, 2017), compiled by Yvon Taillandier, preface by Robert Lubar.


coat peg

The first line wasn’t special; more like a coat peg, just something to hang the poem on.


poetry not poem

One could recognize the poetry in the language, even if no poem emerged from the language.

[Thinking of Lucie Brock-Broido's poetry.]


living in brooklyn

I could often tell when it was a poet at the door. They tend to knock in five-beat intervals.


deep presence

That poetry is one of humankind’s primal urges.


possibly political

Does politics inform your art? I’m not interested in agitprop. However, I think ambiguity can be read in a number of ways. I decided to show Descension—a whirlpool I created nearly five years ago—in Brooklyn Bridge Park in 2017 to draw attention to a certain state of America. I did not declare it. Otherwise the work is enslaved to a political context and has no bigger life.

Why is that? The best work has numerous layers of meaning. We see it in great poetry, like W.H. Auden’s 1947 poem The Age of Anxiety, where the war was never described. The Age of Anxiety could be this age, it could be all ages—the poem lives on by not being banal.

Anish Kapoor, “5 Questions,” Time, February 12, 2018, interview by Tara John.


I know (of) it well

There are long poems that are read and there are long poems that have reputations but aren’t read.


sharp demarcation

A line that was like razor wire. It would be hard to get over.


it all makes sense now

Poets create then critics come after to construct a poetics.



rickety answer

but what is poetry anyway?
More than one rickety answer
has tumbled since that question first was raised.
But I just keep on not knowing, and I cling to that
like a redemptive handrail.

—Wislawa Szymborska, from "Some Like Poetry," translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh.