pack only the essentials

A haiku travels light, through centuries.


write differently

The fundamental experience of the writer is helplessness. This does not mean to distinguish writing from being alive: it means to correct the fantasy that creative work is an ongoing record of the triumph of volition, that the writer is someone who has the good luck to be able to do what he or she wishes to do: to confidently and regularly imprint his being on a sheet of paper. But writing in not decanting of personality. And most writers spend much of their time in various kinds of torment: wanting to write, being unable to write; wanting to write differently, being unable to write differently.

—Louise Glück, Proofs & Theories: Essays on Poetry (Ecco, 1994, p. 3)


your one life

The audacious courage by which one lives a life wholly as an artist.


ex nihilo

Why is it necessary that a fragment suggests a whole?


only the poem

Poet, never talk of publishing, speak only of poems.


after witt

Every line in the poem needn’t be equally understood; some lines you just have to pass over in silence and without question.


from everything

I took wild honey from the plants,
I took salt from the waters, I took light from the sky.
Listen, my brothers, I took poetry from everything.

—Jorge de Lima, opening lines of “The Distribution of Poetry, The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry (Ecco, 2010), edited by Ilya Kaminsky and Susan Harris.


decorative library

The hotel lobby had many bookshelves but the books were turned so that the spines were facing in, facing the wall, as though their titles and authors mattered not, and their purpose was merely decorative like any wall covering.


written storm

Online publishing as furor scribendi.


poem qua poem

The poem in its current state is the poem.


book bludgeon

A critic who likes to remind the reader how much better the old books are than the new ones.


glint of that unlimited vastness

Both in art and in literature, the function of the frame is fundamental. It is the frame that marks the boundary between the picture and what is outside. It allows the picture to exist, isolating it from the rest; but at the same time, it recalls—and somehow stands for—everything that remains out of the picture. I might venture a definition: we consider poetic a production in which each individual experience acquires prominence through its detachment from the general continuum, while it retains a kind of glint of that unlimited vastness.

—Italo Calvino, Letters, 1941-1985 (Princeton U. Press, 2013) selected and with an introduction by Michael Wood, translated by Martin McLaughlin



She has attracted the large audience she deserves.


make it happen

He was a poetry hustler.


too much and then more

As a poet he tended to over-describe. After reading his books you had brush the adjectives off your lap.


shadow, vibration, whiff...

The word ‘poetry’ is used as an exaltation or as an honorific in many arts. But for its practitioners poetry is just something that haunts the final piece.


weight training

Some poets are weighed down by the heavy mantle of their early awards and praise, others gain strength and seem to shrug off the burden of their notoriety.


new into old

[André] Chénier also experimented from early youth in didactic and philosophic verse, and when he commenced his Hermès in 1783 his ambition was to condense the Encyclopédie of Diderot into a poem somewhat after the manner of Lucretius. This poem was to treat of man’s position in the Universe, first in an isolated state, and then in society. It remains fragmentary, and though some of the fragments are fine, its attempt at scientific exposition approximates too closely to the manner of Erasmus Darwin to suit a modern ear. Another fragment called L’Invention sums Chénier’s Ars Poetica in the verse “Sur des pensers nouveaux, faisons des vers antiques.” ["From new thoughts, let us make antique verses"]

[1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Chénier, André de]


that's it then

He had a talent for titles, but the poem itself seldom measured up.


dropped net

The poem is a net dropped into the universe.