not entirely comfortable

The kind of word that looks a little worried sitting there in a line of poetry.


that poem

The poet suspected he might have to invent a new language in order to write the poem.


our logos and the cosmos

In Heraclitus’ fragments, the structure of language, the structure of thought, and the structure of the cosmos itself are all underpinned by a hidden logos. First, there is spoken logos, which humans possess, then there is the logos of the cosmos, which is silent. The correct articulation of the former leads to the revelation of the latter.

—Andrew Hui, A Theory of the Aphorism: From Confucius to Twitter (Princeton U. Press, 2019)


going beyond

Whether by nuance or audacity, all great poems outstrip the resources of their language.


one who knows the logos

Poet, be a language god.


fashion hound

An editor who favored the fashion of the times over that poetry which defied its times.


poet materializes

When he introduced himself as a poet, the other party nodded his head, his eyes unfocused, trying to imagine what exactly that meant.


late to the train

[Poet], on whose train all are late...

—Marina Tsvetaeva, "Poets", translated by Ilya Shambat


far shore

Sometimes the line you want to write is vaguely seen, like a far shore.


there for your protection

The Editors: Were they the gatekeepers or the quality control department?


forward regardless

A poet doesn’t stop writing because no one is paying attention.


armature inside

An image that would construct a poem around itself.



different knowing

Peter Lamarque, in his essay on ‘Poetry and Abstract Thought’, writes that readers of poetry ‘attend far more closely, and in a different way from philosophy, to the process of thought’. Such a process, rather than being one of logical connections, may be one of sound and syntax, rhythm and accent, of sense sparked by the collocations and connotations of words. For those, too, may become a form of ‘knowing’. John Gibson changes the verb when he writers, for instance, that literary works ‘represent ways of acknowledging the world rather than knowing it’. But I suggest that we should keep the idea of ‘knowing’ in play, in order to force it to include process and replay, wonder and unknowing, seeing and listening. To help us to know differently, in all the word-bound, sound-bound, rhythm-bound ways of poetic language, is what poetry, as opposed to philosophy, can offer.

—Angela Leighton, “Poetry’s Knowing,” The Philosophy of Poetry (Oxford U. Press, 2015), edited by John Gibson.


two thirds done

I thought I wasn’t very far along reading the academic book, then I realized the last third of the book was notes, bibliography and index.


worthy writer

When I come across a passage worth quoting, I’m content to be a scribe.


see through

The agon of the unfinished: I see it, I see through it, I cannot see it through.


not a blush

A writer who could not be embarrassed by anything he’d written, therefore he was destined to go unred. (sic)


strike out a path

They say that poetry dies; poetry cannot die. Had she only one human brain for her asylum she would yet endure for ages, for she would burst forth like the lava of Vesuvius and strike out a path through the most prosaic realities.

George Sand, Thoughts and Aphorisms from Her Works (Morrison & Gibb Ltd., second edition 1912), arranged by Alfred H. Hyatt


not a glance

The problem with most long poems is that the poet is never looking back.


single line

What prose masks with explanation, poetry exposes in the stroke of a line.


get ready for praise

The occasional poem: a poet’s chance to shine among his contemporaries.


path not theory

Walk this way: Bloom asked you to read this way.


things about

The poem is the cry of its occasion,
Part of the res itself and not about it.
The poet speaks the poem as it is,

Not as it was: part of the reverberation
Of a windy night as it is, when the marble statues
Are like newspapers blown by the wind. He speaks

By sight and insight as they are. There is no
Tomorrow for him. The wind will have passed by,
the statues will have gone back to be things about.

—Wallace Stevens, from “An Ordinary Evening in New Haven,” The Auroras of Autumn (1950)

[This afternoon was the twenty-fourth annual Wallace Stevens Birthday Bash. The guest speaker, Langdon Hammer, featured the poem “An Ordinary Evening…” in his talk entitled The Virtual Stevens.]


no time for games

These were not the days for language play.