yadda yadda yaddo

A writer who took pride in having done the full circuit of residencies and retreats.


two not three

Terza rima: A sequence of interrupted couplets.



The title was just a coat-hook, a thing to hang a poem on.


content / style

Content of a high order needs little style.


doing the same thing

I don’t dismiss a poet for being prolific, but I am suspect of rote output.


wasted words

Poet, write through the necessary word-waste.


comes with the territory

It’s rare to find a formal poem that doesn’t sound stilted in places.


block off the chip

The book I ordered, a study of the fragment in literature, arrived today. Turns out it’s over four-hundred pages.


blood to poem

Hard for the word to travel from blood to poem.

—Yannis Ritsos, Monochords (Tavern Books, 2017), translated by Paul Merchant.


no absolutes

There are no absolutes when it comes to language.


around the corner

Poet, write a line that can look around
the corner.


know how

Knowing things makes for better writing: connections multiply, metaphors arise easily.


not part way

Don’t start this poem unless you mean to finish it.


poor poet

Poor poet. (One who earns no income from poetry writing.)
Poor poet. (One who writes inferior poetry.)
Poor poet. (An expression of sympathy for one who struggles to write superior poems.)


foreign language

A work of art, like a foreign language, is closed to us until we learn to read it. Meaning is latent, seemingly hidden. There is also the illusion that the meaning is concealed. A work of art is a structure of signs, each meaningful. It follows that a work of art has one meaning only. For an explicator to blur an artist’s meaning, or to be blind to his achievement, is a kind of treason, a betrayal. The arrogance of insisting that a work of art means what you think it means is a mistake that closes off curiosity, perception, the adventure of discovery.

—Guy Davenport, A Balthus Notebook (David Zwirner Books, n.d.)



important poetry

When one reads enough poems, one learns the important entry points to the universe.


words with holes

All words have holes in them.


sound subject

Sometimes the subject is the sound.


learned and declaiming

It’s not hard these days to be known as an intellectual poet.


first principle

The first principle of architectural beauty is that the essential lines of a construction be determined by a perfect appropriateness to its use.

—Gustave Eiffel

The first principle of poetic beauty is that the essential lines of a construction be determined by a perfect appropriateness to its effect.


no outer limit

Language itself is perhaps the only limit on what poetry can be, and sometimes I’m not sure that even that boundary holds.


poorer for it

Many who enter the trade come to think that poetry should be spelled “poorertry”