publication — who needs it?

Julie has some unhappy thoughts.

I sympathize. What can you do? Poetry is a changeling kid with burning eyes. You can’t treat it like the other kids. If you put it on your to-do list, it will sit right up with its straight straight back and laugh at you. Between the eyes. With a laugh you think sounds like a spoon stuck in the sink garbage disposal until you realize it sounds like jasmine rice spilling over a glass table.  

And it’s moved in to stay.

How do you live with something like that?


A real diehard, indestructible, irresolvable obsession in a poet is nothing less than a blessing. The poet with an obsession never has to search for subject matter. It is always right there, welling up like an Artesian spring on a piece of property with bad drainage.

– Tony Hoagland, Real Sofistikashun

One of the things I did this summer was to look at all the poetry I have written as a body of work, rather than as disparate, random poems. Put it in piles, sort it by themes. I ended up with five main piles — poems of human dysfunction; relationship poems; motherhood poems; God-shaped poems and existential/human condition poems.

I was certainly surprised by the first and the fourth categories. But I wouldn’t call any one of them an “obsession.”

Sometimes I convince myself that all this time I’ve only been picking at the edges of a scab with this poetry lark and that somewhere there is indeed an obsession lurking.  And that I should just bite the bullet and rip it off.

The scab, I mean. To get the Artesian spring of obsession going.

Me being a property with generally bad drainage and quite suitable, I think.

behold, thou art fair

Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves’ eyes within thy locks: thy hair is as a flock of goats, that appear from mount Gilead.

Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn, which came up from the washing; whereof every one bear twins, and none is barren among them.

Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely: thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks.

Thy neck is like the tower of David builded for an armoury, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men.

–Song of Solomon, 4

gratis accepistis, gratis date

Someone who knows who they are writes (not very helpfully, in my view, at this point, but we won’t quibble):

Have you ever looked at Bill Knott’s work online? A rare example of an established poet who could get published anywhere, but who chooses instead to make everything freely available at his own site, for reading, copying or downloads. So kind of the opposite approach to most poets online. Bookslut interview.