desert trek

An arid read: Page after page yielding few quotable lines.


there, there, you'll be fine

Some books need those little pats on the back that blurbs give.


not human

Poetry’s feelings are not human feelings; we know the difference. There is some deep exchange of heat for cool that I’m trying to get at, something that I see operating in nonsense and that I believe gives poetry much of its secret irresistibility and staying power (we are not exhausted by it and must always revisit it).

—Kay Ryan, “A Consideration of Poetry,” Synthesizing Gravity (Grove Press, 2020)

[I don't believe this a bit. But I must acknowledge other views re poetry.]


shape-shifting wrestlers

The poem as the mat where language and the psyche twist and grapple.


ultimate enemy of promise

When a clearly gifted poet dies young, of course we miss out on the even greater poetry to come; then again, the quality of the poetry won’t ever slide or fail to exceed the fine early work.


feeling it

Critic, never be too smart to feel.


need for speed

A poem that can only be read headlong, without a backward look.



Sometimes a good occasional poem comes from an event the poet would otherwise have ignored.


original gift

...I think some intensity of awareness must be lost, since it depends on contrast. And that intensity is impoverishment's aftermath, and blessing: what succeeds temporary darkness, what succeeds the void or the desert, is not the primary gift of the world but the essential secondary gift of knowledge, a sense of the significance of the original gift, the scale of our privilege.

—Louise Glück, “On Impoverishment,” Proofs & Theories: Essays on Poetry (Ecco, 1994)


feel it

Enjambment: There is no rule other than feel.


feel this

Art on that borderline of kitsch: Are you not a feeling human being? Are you not a thinking human being?


declined to tell us

He had opinions on all matters related to literary works, but demurred when it came to making a statement about his own work.


not today

Today all I could do is stare into my notbook [sic].


of im and in

The reviewer is concerned with impressions, the critic with insights.


words you don't know yet

Many said [in the publishing world] that it was not a children's book. The vocabulary was much too difficult...

"But my feeling was that there is no such thing as a difficult word. There are only words you don't know yet,..."

—Norton Juster, quoted in his obit by Andrew Limbong


parts of its sum

A long poem known solely in passages and by the sense of its whole.


veil of artifice

A formalist who hides his lack of poetic verve behind a scrim of crafted verse. He doesn’t have the nerve to leave the verse behind.


slovenly housekeeping

Dishes piled in the sink, an ashtray overstuffed with butts, clothes lying about the floor, a beer can having rolled under the bed, this was both his life and his poetics.


back to even

The poet sold just enough books after the reading to pay for the gas to get there (and back).


no to wordsworth

Poetry should be emotion recollected in emotion.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Poetry as Insurgent Art (New Directions, 2007)


artist books

I love looking at them: artist books. Some can't be handled, which I find annoying. Most are collector's items or museum pieces. Seems a sad fate for the text therein.


known by association

The poet denied he was part of that group/school/movement, when the only reason anyone knew his work was because of that association.