fee for fee

Literary presses trading permission fees.


not blank

Even when a poet begins a poem, her page is not totally blank but houses ghosts of what poetry is, has been, and could be.

—Rachel Blau DuPlessis, The Difference is Spreading: Fifty Contemporary Poets on Fifty Poems (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2022)


starting block

Poets often concern themselves with the end words of their lines. The first word in the line should be seen as the runner in the starting block, poised to take that first thrusting step.


lost lines

The poem was forgetting itself line by line.


marketing plan

The poet’s distribution strategy was to drive around town putting his new book inside all the tiny library stanchions he could find.


alternate route

Poets and artists must resist this: The MFA way or the highway.

A degree works for some but not for others. A watershed has many tributaries.


no five-seven-five

There’s no counting in haiku. (Of syllables that is.)


edge of the void

…often poetic forms, even non-rhyming ones, are about end words. I don’t like to think of end words as the point of the line—the break is not more central to the line than the rest of the unit—but there is, yes, something significant about those ultimate words. They need a little more courage, hanging out right at the edge of the void.

—Elisa Gabbert, “Cross-talk,” The New York Times Book Review, Oct. 15, 2023


straight up

Fearless in his critique of famous poets because some had asked him for his opinion, and he gave it straight.


know a poem

In phrases, images, rhythms, style,...you can know a poem without having memorized a single line.


required study

To really know poetry requires an education akin to training in the sciences.


poetic engagement

There are many people who write poetry who are not poets. A ‘poet’ is someone whose engagement with the world is absolute and integral. There are writers of poetry who use language as a substitute for artist engagement.


diorama poem

The poem as diorama: a miniature curated space that you can peer into and into which you can pretend for a while to dwell.


three recognitions

As I’ve said, the actual subject of any poem is the reader. The poem should be where the reader sees himself afresh, momentarily freed from the trappings of the world. But for this to occur, the reader must be able to find his way into the poem as a participant. Metaphor, through its question-asking process, is a partial way to do this. But it is also necessary for the reader to apprehend and authenticate the event or situation of the poem with his memory. That is, he must take part in the poem by engaging in an act of recognition.

This recognition can be divided into three general types: intellectual, physical and emotional. When I say 5x5=25, you engage in an act of intellectual recognition. When I describe the smell of apples, the recognition is physical. When I talk of the difficulty of love, the recognition is emotional.

It is rarely so simple. Any recognition will often be made up of all three parts, although only one part may predominate.

—Stephen Dobyns, “Metaphor and the Authenticating Act of Memory,” Poetics: Essays on the Art of Poetry (Tendril, 1984), edited by Paul Mariani and George Murphy [p 210]


higher order

The audience for poetry is more advanced than the audiences of other arts, because more is required of those who follow poetry.


not fade away

Dante has held up well over time. That's what literature is: Writing something that doesn’t fade from consciousness of the cognoscenti.


postmo tv

It’s not coincidence that Post Modernism and television came of age concurrently.


an old value

Prudence is prophylactic to the prolific.

[Thinking of the new Nobel Prize winner Jon Fosse's Septology. Please stop the egomaniacal madness.]


many things at once

A poet can hold many things at one time inside the head.


bootleg and spatchcock

And here is the main difficulty that imagism and its derivatives and variations run into every time. Most ideas are not contained in the mere names of things, nor even in the description of things, and have to be supplied from elsewhere. If you are and say you are in principle against any ideas save such as come packaged in things and the names of things, you will have to bootleg your ideas in somehow-anyhow and spatchcock them onto your poem somehow-anyway, while continuing to proclaim you are doing no such thing.

—Howard Nemerov, “Image and Metaphor,” Poetics: Essays on the Art of Poetry (Tendril, 1984), edited by Paul Mariani and George Murphy