spirit word

Isn’t the word ‘poem’ a spirit in the world?


let me tell you

Gamblers will let slip news of their recent winnings while being stoic and tight-lipped as regards to their long losing streaks, and it’s the same with writers and their acceptances against the larger accumulation of rejection slips.


posed poiesis

In Stevens’ poems all the important questions about poetry are posed.


etch in light

There is no way you can not have a poetics
no matter what you do: plumber, baker, teacher

you do it in the consciousness of making
or not making yr world
you have a poetics: you step into the world
like a suit of readymade clothes

or you etch in light
your firmament spills into the shape of your room
the shape of the poem, of yr body, of yr loves

—Diane di Prima, from "Rant"


naming rights

With his writing and publishing not going well, he hatched a scheme to begin copyrighting the works of Anonymous as his own.


no need to reach

When you observe common things closely they have an emphatic quality, a thusness that is like a charge around them and which is both beautiful and satisfying. To see the way the corners of the room meet or the light bounces off a floorboard is enough of a reason for life. Painters understand that the interesting object is the round glass, the box, the rusty down-pipe and that there is no need to reach for a meaning beyond what is visible. By their beauty, objects bring the eye of beholder into contact with infinity.

—John Tarrant, Bring Me the Rhinoceros (Shambhala Publications, 2008)


hey let's hangout and do art

For most artists isn’t collaboration a way to kill time between doing one’s own work.


things seen or heard

He didn’t write poems so much as he faithfully recorded what he saw and heard.


better in time

Among the dangerous notions is ‘the progress of the arts’.


word order

In Gertrude Stein’s writing the words are rather plain and generic while the rhetoric is particular when it’s not peculiar.


things therein

A poem that was a cabinet of curiosities


formerly acquainted with

He had a falling out with his ideal reader.


known rivers

I looked out the window of the Pullman at the great muddy river flowing down toward the heart of the South, and I began to think what that river, the old Mississippi, had meant to Negroes in the past—how to be sold down the river was the worst fate that could overtake a slave in times of bondage. Then I remembered reading how Abraham Lincoln had made a trip down the Mississippi on a raft to New Orleans, and how he had seen slavery at its worst, and had decided within himself that it should be removed from American life. Then I began to think about other rivers in our past—the Congo, and the Niger, and the Nile in Africa—and the thought came to me: “I’ve known rivers,” and I put it down on the back of an envelope I had in my pocket, and within the space of ten or fifteen minutes, as the train gathered speed in the dusk, I had written the poem, which I called “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.”

—Langston Hughes, The Big Sea, in The Langston Hughes Reader (G. Braziller, 1958).


local fame

He was famous in a group of about ten poets.


line lance

Poet, give spur to your charger and lower your line like a lance.


dancer, follow my lead

The poem should always be asking the reader to step up.


spill into silence

Epigraph for a commonplace book: Pity those with prodigious memories, for they have no need to record the gems found when reading, and when their lives are over their mind troves will spill into silence.


against foie gras

One’s notebook should not be force-fed.


coldest thing I ever felt

Sometimes I hear him typing, and often I hear a woodpecker and think it is he. He loves to canoe, and has been in the water, swimming slowly around for a time with a smile on his face, and remarking very gently after a bit, “Why Fairfield. It’s the coldest thing I ever felt.

—Fairfield Porter, “To Frank O’Hara, Aug 1 1955,” quoted in John T. Spike, Fairfield Porter: An American Classic (New York, Harry Abrams, 1992), 120.

[I encountered this quote in Douglas Crase’s AMERIFIL.TXT: A Commonplace Book (The Univ. of Michigan Press, 1996)]


until it turns

A poetic line begins but doesn’t have a known end, until it turns.


notes and chords

If language is our instrument, the words and phrases are our notes and chords.

[This cannot be a new thought.]