title bigger than the book

The more grand and encompassing its title, the less likely it is that the anthology adequately contains the important writing of its time.


another unexpected poem

Poets say they don’t know where poems come from, right before writing another one.


meaning what

A poem of semantic antics.


shooting script

Poem as script to be enacted by the reader.


putting poets aside

And so a gathering like this of ours, when it includes such men as most of us claim to be, requires no extraneous voices, not even of the poets, whom one cannot question on the sense of what they say; when they are adduced in discussion we are generally told by some that the poet thought so and so, and by others, something different, and they go on arguing about a matter which they are powerless to determine. No, this sort of meeting is avoided by men of culture, who prefer to converse directly with each other, and to use their own way of speech in putting one another by turns to the test. It is this sort of person that I think you and I ought rather to imitate; putting the poets aside, let us hold our discussion together in our own persons, making trial of the truth and of ourselves.

—Socrates in Plato’s Protagoras (Leob classical edition, W.R.M. Lamb translation)


and it is me

I found the perfect reader for my poem, and it was me: Only I could see all the nuances, subtleties, allusions packed into the poem.


stage over page

In almost all cases hearing a poet read in person will sway me more toward his/her work.


lightly read

It was the kind of publication that had no readers except for those contributors who bothered to read their own work upon publication, checking the piece for typos.


make and mark

The artist creates, and the audience defines.


sweet disorder in the dress

Poetry will forever be too motley for dress of definition.


song elevates

At its best song elevates equally the music and the words.


no rush

He was never accused of rushing to publish.


recognizes no borders

Poetry is like a bird, it ignores all frontiers.

Yevgeny Yevtushenko (Quoted July 2, 1967)


ready reader

A reader of poetry must develop some tolerance for incoherence.


ars longa

Always there are writers who won’t survive their discovery phase.


crux of the matter

There must be a crux: A place in the poem where some act or scene is shown to have consequence or significance we could characterize as poetic.


brought from the world

The best poetry is found not in language but in the world; so that the poem by means of language becomes what was brought back, with consonant effect, from the world.


not ever pure

Guillén was aware that, whatever else, purely poetic poetry would be quite boring. And something more serious: it was linguistically impossible since language is by nature impure. A “pure poetry” would be one in which language had ceased to be language.

—Octavio Paz, “Jorge Guillén,” On Poets and Others (Arcade Publishing, 1986), translation by Michael Schmidt.


one way

One door: Wonder.


end and beginning

As I closed the book I sensed that a face turned from me to drift toward another reader.


line breeder

The lines seemed to breed one after another as though endless in their lineage.


words lifted on high

To be quoted is the apotheosis of anything said or written.