How do you start a poem?

I wonder if it might be fun to talk a little about process – beginning at the beginning, of course. How do you start a poem? Here are three perspectives:

Jack Gilbert: There’s no one way. Sometimes I’m walking along the street and I find it there. Sometimes it’s something I’ve been thinking about. Sometimes it’s an apparition.

Allen Ginsberg: It’s a feeling that begins somewhere in the pit of the stomach and rises up forward in the breast and then comes out through the mouth and ears, and comes forth a croon or a groan or a sigh. Which, if you put words to it by looking around and seeing and trying to describe what’s making you sigh—and sigh in words—you simply articulate what you’re feeling. As simple as that.

Nicholson Baker: I ask myself: What was the very best moment of your day?




New Year’s is my favorite holiday. I like the idea of being able to start anew. Things will, of course, get rough. They always do. But, when they do, I like keep in mind the phœnix, which rises from its own ashes. Happy New Year.

The University of Chicago Phoenix

The Phœnix (Mascot of the University of Chicago)


Jessica Hische Is Awesome

Need a fancy drop cap to brighten your day? Here are several from Jessica Hische, who is one of my new favorite internet-people. Her portfolio is marvelous.


Elaine hates Christmas,

but I say some music with rummed eggnog, a warm companion, and a fire is okay.

• Christmas Time Is Here (version Shawn Colvin)

• Sleigh Ride ( Sadie Stein)

• Christmas Time Is Here (version Steve Vai)

Merriment to you.


Tina Chang’s Writing Process

I’ll start with first making the tea. I have to have my container of pens. I also always have to have the windows open …

For the related article, click here.

[For alerting me to the word “farrago,”  Shelf Lyfe.]