room for more

Poems are creatures we put into the world to respond to us, and to whom we, in turn, respond. And marvelously there’s always room for more.

—Irving Feldman, Usable Truths (Waywiser Press, 2019)


wish, wait, will

Some wish for the poem, some wait for the poem, some will the poem.


time spent

On the side of critics, often good criticism takes much longer than the original composition.


selection is criticism

Even organizing a reading series is a critical act.


foam and sand

Every month Poetry magazine arrives in the mail and I think of waves on a beach, a wash of white foam dissipating into the sand.


anthology is

Anthology: text zoo.


nature and artifice

A vapour trail cuts across and above some untidy clouds, across the blue, before and after the clouds, as I look up through trees blown by a strong wind. A Gestalt centering on that intimate mixture of nature and artifice. A poem—perhaps.

Geoffrey Grigson, The Private Art: A Poetry Note-Book (Allision & Busby, 1982)


blurbs get behind me

The poet was pleased her reputation had risen to the point she was no longer obliged to gather blurbs.


reading time

Was I a slow reader or did poetry just reveal itself slowly?


running behind

You can’t make up lost ground in the poem by adding more words.


muchly more

It’s always a bad sign when you hear a writer being praised for being ‘prolific'.


prepare to read

One must make ready for an encounter with poetry.


ultimate funny

I love my funny poems, but I'd rather break your heart. And if I can do both in the same poem, that's the best. If you laughed earlier in the poem, and I bring you close to tears in the end, that's the best.

—James Tate, The Paris Review (Issue 177, Summer 2006) interview by Charles Simic.

[New website honoring James Tate.]


stealth poems

There are many songs that poets don’t recognize as true poems.


compressed composition

He found that he could only force poems to happen. And the shorter the time to write the poem, the better.


another page

A poet promised in this page another even better page.


open book critic

It’s okay to be a disagreeable critic as long you can convince the reader that your opinion may be flawed and you’re still open to being awed.


to wilt too soon

A bouquet of flowery blurbs graced the back cover.


painting, meaning, music

Every sensible definition of poetry is personal—is attuned to a poet’s own habit and nature—and is incomplete. If you collected all such definitions of poetry by poets, no doubt they would stand in a circle, with poetry, or life, or essence of man, in the middle, as clear at last as a poem. At the moment I am for Pasternak’s conclusion that poetry ought to contain painting and meaning, in addition to music.

Geoffrey Grigson, The Private Art: A Poetry Note-Book (Allision & Busby, 1982)


not too much fidelity

Writers insist that editors be faithful toward their texts; but not faithful to their typos or other errors therein.


the time it takes

Slow poetry: publishing a broadside.


chance and control

In art, what part accident, what part intent.