Showing posts from October, 2020


I'm thrilled to find Sarah Venart's fine new book, I AM THE BIG HEART , in the mailbox. I walk back to the house so absorbed in it I forget to check the pines that line the lane for the owl that sometimes waits there, watching. Thrilled because it was fourteen years in the making, Sarah says, at times with much uncertainty over whether it would get made at all. Thrilled because I got to watch some of the poems taking shape (see Sarah's revision worksheets for four poems, from draft to publication, here ). The cover is unsettling and beautiful, and the book is thicker than I'd imagined - partly that luxurious paper all Brick's books are printed on, partly the hospitable distillation of a whole lot of thoughtful and passionate and sometimes resistant living. Hospitality, especially when it feels like invitation, is one of the best things to find in a poem. When the poem goes "here's what this is like for me; how is it for you?" I feel a little more alive


"If you don't like what you wrote, don't think about the words, just remember it better." I'm paraphrasing Robert Hass's advice on revision in a dimly-recalled Vimeo of a talk given in Rotterdam , a paraphrase itself of something Jack Kerouac once said. The context was a discussion of the sources of poetry according to Rilke (memory, dream, art) and its subjects (joy, longing, grief). Hass had set up a quick exercise in noting a location for each of those emotions. Just before this, someone in the audience asked about revision, to which Hass responded with an anecdote (about Robert Duncan and his poem " My Mother Would Be a Falconress ") that suggested a poem only acquires the name 'poem' when all the writing is done, essentially another way of saying writing is rewriting is writing. I recall, as a young person just beginning to find my own poems, asking a friend about her process and how she knew when a poem was finished. The quest