The Ars Poetica

by Nynke Passi


The Ars Poeticais the a poem about the art of writing a poem–since only the language of poetry itself is subtle enough to touch upon the unspeakable creative process of writing.

“Poetry is ordinary language raised to the Nth power. Poetry is boned with ideas, nerved and blooded with emotions, all held together by the delicate, tough skin of words.”–Paul Engle

Ars Poetica
by Archibald MacLeish

A poem should be palpable and mute
As a globed fruit

As old medallions to the thumb

Silent as the sleeve-worn stone
Of casement ledges where the moss has grown –

A poem should be wordless
As the flight of birds

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs

Leaving, as the moon releases
Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,

Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,
Memory by memory the mind –

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs

A poem should be equal to:
Not true

For all the history of grief
An empty doorway and a maple leaf

For love
The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea –

A poem should not mean
But be

Infant Joy Blake

Introduction to Poetry
By Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.


And one by former student Leah Waller:

Where Is My Poem: Ars Poetica

Where is my poem?
I must have been too needy for him.
I demanded that we spend every evening together,
so one day he said that he was going out
for a pack of smokes
and never came back.

I saw him in a dance club months later
flirting with other poets
and he looked so good-
lines cut in a sharp buzz,
his images even more direct and clear.
A cigar stuck in his mouth
like a fork in a pie
as he cleanly told me
he was done.

I stood on the other side of the glass
watching him dance with the other poets.
He saw me and, feeling guilty,
put on his black fedora
and came out into the street light.
He said, “What do you want?
Can’t you see I’m busy?”
I said, “I came for my passion,
hand it over, and we’ll be done here.”
He placed it in my hands
wrapped in a small couplet.
But no sooner had he touched me
than he wanted more.
He held me in iambic pentameter,
tangled my hair into simile and metaphor.
He kissed me uncontrollably.
Wet lips pulsing stanza after stanza,
he filled my page.
Then he pulled away,
went back inside to dance with the other poets.
leaving me
with only
a page of words.
–published in Under the Cedar Tree (First World Publishing)

The Gift
by Chard deNiord

In memory of Ruth Stone (June 8th, 1915-November 19th, 2011)

“All I did was write them down
wherever I was at the time, hanging
laundry, baking bread, driving to Illinois.
My name was attached to them
on the page but not in my head
because the bird I listened to outside
my window said I couldn’t complain
about the blank in place of my name
if I wished to hold both ends of the wire
like a wire and continue to sing instead
of complain. It was my plight, my thorn,
my gift-the one word in three I was
permitted to call it by the Muse who took
mercy on me as long as I didn’t explain.”

Poem a Day