Dancing to silence

July 12, 2019

And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.


  • Please note boys and girls, this quote is sourced to Friedrich Nietzsche all over the internet, but that is rubbish – poor old Nietzsche NEVER wrote or said this – nor anything like it! The TIMES newspaper in 1927 published this:

“They who dance are thought mad by those who hear not the music. The truth of the old proverb was never more surely borne out that it is just now.”

an intimacy going

April 6, 2019

Every work has a shape. I work in a lot of different kinds of forms and a lot of the poems are long. I’m aware of using musical forms. I’m quite influenced by the symphonic form, for example, the sonata form. But I feel it’s really necessary to make as much of the formal construction of it as I can obvious and at the same time there’s an intimacy going on that has to do with the use of the human voice and the fact that one is talking to others and there’s the possibility of having some sort of enormous performance thing happen, as if performing a play.

Alice Notley

Seeing the future: a conversation with Alice Notley

I want a poetry of knowledge and of thought, not of opinion – and not of belief, which is merely dead thought. Poetry is the musical density of being,  but sometimes it is silent, and sometimes that silence is musically still.

Robert Bringhurst
Pieces of Map, Pieces of Music

the rhyme changed my life

February 23, 2019

When I was 12, I wrote a poem that concluded in a very simple rhyme. The poem was nothing special but the rhyme changed my life. My parents were string quartet violinists; when I made that rhyme, I thought, This is my music…

I pretty much write all the time and don’t follow any particular routine or practice. I almost always write the first draft (or two or three) in longhand and move to a computer later; this is true for novels, as well as for poems. I write in spiral notebooks – grabbing whichever comes to hand, which means the same notebook may hold paragraphs from different stories and lines from various poems and a book review or essay. I would so love to be more systematic but I work on a lot of things at once and the result is, paper everywhere, with no way to organize it.

Writing in any form is a “journey of discovery”. Writing poetry is how I think, and learning what one thinks is terrifically exciting: That’s the journey, that’s the illumination. In any given poem, I want to make the idea of it as clear as possible -which is not to say an exposition but an unclouded vision.

I also have a great desire to include all kinds of things in my poetry; that is, to take on, in my poetry, different worlds, as in science, history, language, philosophy, visual art, music, religion, etc. I am interested in all these things, and it seems natural to me to want to write about them.

Kelly Cherry
Interview with Maureen Doallas for tweetspeak

Writing off the Subject

February 21, 2019

A poem can be said to have two subjects, the initiating or triggering subject, which starts the poem or “causes” the poem to be written, and the real or generated subject, which the poem comes to say or mean, and which is generated or discovered in the poem during the writing. That’s not quite right because it suggests that the poet recognizes the real subject. The poet may not be aware of what the real subject is but only have some instinctive feeling that the poem is done.

Young poets find it difficult to free themselves from the initiating subject. The poet puts down the title: “Autumn Rain.” He finds two or three good lines about Autumn Rain. Then things start to break down. He cannot find anything more to say about Autumn Rain so he starts making up things, he strains, he goes abstract, he starts telling us the meaning of what he has already said. The mistake he is making, of course, is that he feels obligated to go on talking about Autumn Rain, because that, he feels, is the subject. Well, it isn’t the subject. You don’t know what the subject is, and the moment you run out of things to say about Autumn Rain start talking about something else. In fact, it’s a good idea to talk about something else before you run out of things to say about Autumn Rain.

Don’t be afraid to jump ahead. There are a few people who become more interesting the longer they stay on a single subject. But most people are like me, I find. The longer they talk about one subject, the duller they get. Make the subject of the next sentence different from the subject of the sentence you just put down. Depend on rhythm, tonality, and the music of language to hold things together. It is impossible to write meaningless sequences. In a sense the next thing always belongs. In the world of imagination, all things belong. If you take that on faith, you may be foolish, but foolish like a trout.

Richard Hugo
Writing off the Subject
The Triggering Town

almost a nonlanguage art

February 19, 2019

Poetry is not just an outpouring of feelings into words; diaries are good places for that. Nor is it use of words merely to convey information, as newspapers are purported to do. OK, so we all know that poetry’s medium is words — but don’t be fooled by that “fact” into thinking that poetry is made of words. “Pure poetry,” poet Russell Edson says, “is almost a nonlanguage art.” I think of poetry as a right-brain activity, using image, sensory gatherings, spatial impressions, free associations, music, and creative perception, and only casting its line into the language lake on the left to fish out the words to articulate it. If you read it only for the words (information, feelings, experience) it will not awaken and inform your full feelings and experience but will frustrate you in its seemingly mad illogic and leaps.

Alice B Fogel
Strange Terrain


February 14, 2019

It was my father taught my mother
how to dance.
I never knew that.
I thought it was the other way.
Ballroom was their style,
a graceful twirling,
curved arms and fancy footwork,
a green-eyed radio.

There is always more than you know.
There are always boxes
put away in the cellar,
worn shoes and cherished pictures,
notes you find later,
sheet music you can’t play.

A woman came on Wednesdays
with tapes of waltzes.
She tried to make him shuffle
around the floor with her.
She said it would be good for him.
He didn’t want to.

Margaret Atwood

I Wish

January 5, 2019

I wish people enjoy poetry as much as hypocrisy.
I wish they created art rather than wars.
I wish they discuss atoms, aliens, sex, science, music instead of rating each other by ethnicity, religion and nationality.
I wish they had a twisted mind who speak with emotion and kindness, not with hate and blindness.

Rim Zeiny


December 3, 2018

Desire burns me. The desire for beautiful things that I have seen but not possessed. This desire burns me – burns my soul, my heart, my brain like wildfire.

I have tasted autumn skies at night, and the soft flesh of women scented by wildflowers. I have heard pure emotion in music, and the cry of an owl at midnight. These are all things that bring the soul closer to poetry. But still I desire more –


Halloween Playlist

October 28, 2018

An almost perfect Halloween Playlist compiled by that wonderful witch Orion Burke, just for you, boys & girls. Great music for a walk in the woods at twilight, or a casual stroll through your local cemetery after dark. Enjoy and have a blessed, eerie, and joyful All Hallows’ Eve –

1. “All Saints’ Eve” – Vincent Price
2. “Full Moonlight Dance” – Libana
3. “King of the Faeries (Remix)” – Áine Minogue
4. “Tam Lin” Anaïs Mitchell & Jefferson Hamer
5. “Samhain” – Lisa Thiel
6. “Song for Samhain” – Victoria Parks
7. “All Hallow’s Eve” – Story, The
8. “Alison Cross” – Malinky
9. “She Is Crone” – Kellianna
10. “Samhain Night” – Jenna Greene
11. “Full Moon Light Dance” – Tina Malia
12. “The Uttoxeter Souling Song/Turner’s” – Blowzabella
13. “All Hallows” – Sharron Krauss, Jon Boden, Hay Field, Ian Woods, & Claire Lloyd
14. “We Are the Flow” – Lila
15. “Night of the Black Mirror” – Peggy Monaghan
16. “Samain Night” Loreena McKennitt
17. “Spirits of the World” – Áine Minogue
18. “Autumn’s Twilight” – Kiva
19. “Samhain Eve” – Damh the Bard
20. “Come to the Labyrinth” – S.J. Tucker
21. “Samhain (Into the Winter Nights)” – Elisa Welch M.
22. “Witchery Fate Song” – Jean Luc Lenoir
23. “Hecate” – Ruth Barrett
24. “Ancestor’s Song” – Kellianna
25. “The Banshee Set” – Bröceliande
26. “The Old Churchyard” – Offa Rex
27. “An Fainne Or” – Áine Minogue
28. “Samhain” – Heather Alexander
29. “Hallow’s Eve” – Lisa Theriot
30. “Unquiet Grave” – Kate Rusby
31. “The Lover’s Ghost” – The Owl Service
32. “Robin Is Dead” – Sharron Kraus
33. “So spricht das Leben (So Sayeth Life)” – The Mediaeval Baebes
34. “Cerdiwen and Taliesen” – Damh the Bard
35. “Dance in the Graveyards” – Delta Rae
36. “Wolf an Dro” – Omnia
37. “Tam Lin” – Trent Wagler and The Steel Wheels
38. “Souling Song – Samhain Version” – Kristen Lawrence
39. “November Drinking Song” – Magpie Lane
40. “Auld Lang Syne” – Mairi Campbell