sword and armor

Orpheus tried to make a song strong as a sword and armor.


file upload complete

They don’t curate, they don’t edit: Presses that will publish almost anything because print-on-demand technology demands so little of the publisher…just a good pdf file to upload.


this way

Having a way with words will only get you so far. You must have a way into the world that others will want to follow.


big book, big evil

Callimachus is best known today for his verse. He is the author of the elegy to a fellow poet, Heraclitus of Halicarnassus, often anthologized in its translation by William Johnson Cory: ‘They told me, Heraclitus, they told me you were dead.’ A proponent of shorter forms—hymns, elegies, epigrams—he is said to have coined the witticism mega biblion, mega kakon (‘big book, big evil’) to express his disdain for epic poetry. Nevertheless, it is his work not as a poet but as a scholar which will concern us, and here Callimachus was responsible for a very big book indeed, the Pinakes, said to have run to 120 papyrus scrolls.


Callimachus may have been passed over for the role of Chief Librarian [Library of Alexandria], but, in compiling the Pinakes, it was he who did most of all to preserve the library’s memory. Pinakes simply means ‘Tables’, as in writing boards or ‘tablets’, and the full title of Callimachus’s work was the Tables of Men Illustrious in Every Field of Learning and of Their Writing. It was a catalogue of all the works housed in the great library.

—Dennis Duncan, Index, A History of the: A Bookish Adventure from Medieval Manuscripts to the Digital Age (W. W. Norton, 2021) [31- 32]


worse angels

Words had got the worst of him.


they who believe

Heartened that there were people who believed more in her poetry than she did.


not imprimatur

Print is not imprimatur: A poem being in a book is not the poem’s imprimatur.


tethered to existence

One believes the poem came from nowhere, while each line could be traced back to life.


grape to raisin

Don’t be the critic who makes a raisin from a grape.


paris arcades

In 1929, Benjamin once again believed that he could pinpoint when, where, and how this breakthrough into the unreal and universally falsifying spirit of his age occurred. In Paris, in fact, the capital of the nineteenth century. Not in the form of an individual or a book, but in a new form of construction, built from iron and steel: the Paris arcades, the cabinets of curiosity, bathed in a perpetual artificial twilight, of coming consumer capitalism. In their window displays the whole disparate world of commodities, forms, and symbols was placed side by side for the onlooker’s gaze, and in the end offered for purchase. Neither entirely an internal space nor part of the streetscape, the arcades were deliberately arranged as liminal places that leveled out every fundamental difference. Half cave, half house, half passageway and half room.

In the finite individuals who strolled aimlessly through them, with their always brimming, constantly redecorated vitrines, these arcades created the appearance of infinite availability, which would extend to the rest of the world—and anesthetize it.

—Wolfram Eilenberger, Time of the Magicians: Wittgenstein, Benjamin, Cassirer, Heidegger, and the Decade that Reinvented Philosophy (Penguin Books, 2020), trans. by Shaun Whiteside. [343-344]


for you and your mom

Print litmags typically give you two contributor copies, because they know you’ll want to keep a copy and that your mom will want to read your work too.


art and money

To make money by one’s art should be nothing more than a delightful and unexpected convergence. Like running into an old friend someplace you never could have imagined.


special case

Any poem beyond a couple pages in length is a special case of prose.


end work

Sometimes an artist will write or sing or paint something they know they can never exceed, and their creative life ends right there.


valued but unread

What most book collectors overlook is that the material object of the book would be absolutely worthless without the text within. Yet once the book becomes collectible, the object itself is barely if ever read for fear of harming the artifact.


cut that alters

A line break that preempts the full thought and thus alters it.


art as performance

During one of my visits to the studio of the artist David Salle, he told me that he never revises. Every brushstroke is irrevocable. He doesn’t correct or repaint, ever. He works under the dire conditions of performance. Everything counts, nothing may be taken back, everything must always go relentlessly forward, and a mistake may be fatal. One day, he showed me a sort of murdered painting. He had worked on it a little too long, taken a misstep, killed it.

—Janet Malcolm, “Forty-one False Starts" [#4], Forty-One False Starts: Essays on Artists and Writers (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013)


too close to poem

I would posit that if your favorite poem is one you’ve written, you are not a good poet.


cannot wear out

No matter how many times you read or hear it, you can’t wear out a good poem.


unknown vector

Be the poet they didn’t seeing coming.