by comparison

AI generated poetry makes flarf poetry look like poetic genius.


few stitches

To be permitted a few stitches in literature’s great tapestry.


a book set aside

He'd set aside the book about a decade ago and just today picked it up again as though nothing had happened in between.


programmed plagiarist

Isn’t writing a poem via an AI assist just a special case of plagiarism?


personal music

I learned, from Edwin [Denby], that each phrase was an object and that word order was plastic; that each word used all of its space and so had to fill it; that each line floated as well as connected; and that where a sentence stopped and another began was ambiguous, like in speech. I learned that one could place personal suffering in a context that might be communal as of persons or communal as of objects and actions and words—either one worked as community. I thus learned a scale one was being along that began with oneself and others in one’s apartment and proceeded out onto the street and into the imaginary space of painting and ballet on up into the sky above tall buildings, all inside one and one inside it. I learned not to fear the sound of personal peculiarities in poetry, personal “music,” that that’s what the poems would finally be made of.

—Alice Notley, “Intersections with Edwin’s Lines,” Telling the Truth as It Comes Up: Selected Talks & Essays 1991-2018 (The Song Cave, 2023)


reading together

The beauty of reading literary criticism is that you get to read together with another engaged and thoughtful person, and no matter that the arguments are necessarily unresolved.


brief dip

A book he could tell early on he would not read in full.


two types

A memory hoarder v. an experience giver.


the wrong word

A word may be mildly inapposite and do more damage to the piece than a word that is wildly out of keeping with the whole.



no chance

One of the sad things, I have come to think, about making Literature an academic subject is that it doesn’t really give poetry a chance. What poetry has to offer us isn’t easily handled in examinations; everything else about it—formal aspects, tendencies, sources, biographical indications…the trivia, the incidentals of the enterprise—alack, most distractingly, are.

I. A. Richards, "The Future of Reading," The Written Word (Newbury House Publishers, 1971)


book count

One of those poets who had more published books than readers.


slash and burn

I think the best poets get more satisfaction from striking whole lines and stanzas than from the composition of same.


no performance required

Performance cannot enhance a good poem but it may elevate a lesser one.


tripping hazard

Tripped up by the poem's title.


mystery first

In the composition of poetry mystery must be foremost and then mastery follows after.


colossus means

A colossal heroism: order of excess, triumph over formlessness: “For the primitive Greek, colossus does not mean size, but figuration, a little doll could be colossal if it achieved its figuration, if it triumphed over the formlessness. A superior order of excess, a new creationist order of man and of the gods.” (“Homenaje a René Portocarrero,” 1962). To conceive formlessness, according to Lezama, means following the trace of becoming that goes “from a nebula to the cosmos.” More than imposing a form on the formlessness, a sense of finality, we must crown it, capture it without stopping it, and allow it to reach its best sense at the moment it escapes.

—from the introduction to A Poetic Order of Excess: Essays on Poets and Poetry (Green Integer Press, 2019) by José Lezama Lima, edited and translated by James Irby and Jorge Brioso


fall out

I don’t fall in line with 5-7-5, but I won’t resist a haiku that happens to fall out into that pattern.


respect the blank page

Poet, have respect for the blank page.


no pets

He had no pets but many beloved books.


killer lines

Killer first line. Killer final line. The rest of the poem will fall into place.