relative time

At the reading, the poet said he'd dashed off this one, which meant the poem was a decade in the making.


fully furnished

They tried to give him a chair in poetry. He refused unless there was a table to go with it.


space beyond the words

If no white space cushioned the poem its language would have to brush up against the language of the world. The world where language buys sausages and fills insurance forms. Where it writes rejections and makes empty promises. Where it speaks in parliaments and fudges truth and sells cosmetic surgery and guns. And if there were no white space to mark it off, how would we know the difference? They are only little words. Even the innocent ones amongst them look like repeat offenders, like the lying sort.

‘Don’t play what’s there,’ Miles Davis said, ‘play what’s not there.’ Play the void. Play the white space. Play outside the frame.

If only there were ways of framing off the worst of our lives. Of containing it. Forbidding it to leak into the rest of our well-lived days.

—Vona Groarke, Four Sides Full (The Gallery Press, 2016)


open and closed

You wanted to write, but you valued your reticence.


stand still

Until the piece was published it held the possibility of improvement.


unfinished environs

I looked around and saw all the partly read books stacked about.


new order rhetoric

A poem that raised rhetoric to a new order.

[Thinking of Amanda Gorman's inaugural poem.]



The poem that comes holus-bolus while being sequentially laid out in lines.


ready for everything

He had the strong and sinewy look of the determined and patient walker, who is always going off, his long legs moving quietly and very regularly, his head straight, his beautiful eyes fixed on the distance, and his face filled with a look of steady defiance, an air of expectation—ready for everything, without anger, without fear.

Ernest Dalahaye, on Arthur Rimbaud, 1925, Beneath My Feet: Writers on Walking (Notting Hill Editions, 2018)


bad architecture

The poem stood like bad architecture filling the space of the page.


no dumping

A poem that was a dumpster of images.


write this with me

To write a poem that invites the reader into its composition.


useful list of errors

The erratum slip made for a convenient bookmark.


horrors of verse

Here Thomas Hardy informs us the trees from where the birds flew were on his right because he needed to rime with 'night'...

And the town-shine in the distance
    did but baffle here the sight,
And then a voice flew forward:
    “Dear, is’t you? I fear the night!”
And the herons flapped to norward
    In the firs upon my right.

[Thomas Hardy's "On a Heath"]


all in the index

He bragged he could write the whole book by simply perusing its index.


poet at the wheel

Never trust a poet who can drive. Never trust a poet at the wheel. If he can drive, distrust the poems.

—Martin Amis, The Information

[Encountered this quote in Garner’s Quotations]


little enlarged

Poets are so precious and proprietary about their litmag publications. They never ask how many people really read it.


practical plus

To poets prose seems much too practical and potentially profitable.


but what about

Remember, there is always a counter to whatever smart thing you can say about poetry.


things or signs

Her nouns were real things. Her nouns were signs.