A Word for It by Warren Slesinger


Just a “word” about these “definitions”:

A few years ago, I was trying to stimulate a thought by looking up the definition of a word in the dictionary when I realized that listing (if used selectively) often formed a pattern that I could use myself: a “definition” that enabled me to generate a sequence of associations and contain them in a structure that relied more on verbal synopsis than syntax.

I used numbers instead of stanzas for a structure that looks like a real definition, but in fact, is a poem.
—Warren Slesinger


  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 50
  • Language: English
  • Date Published: October 2017
  • ISBN: 978-1-939929-88-4


A Word for It, Warren Slesinger’s heartfelt and evocative collection of lexical poems, combines a love of language, habit of close observation, trenchant wit, and mature wisdom. Looking outward at the things of this world, seeking to define their essence, he is led back to the inner realm, where the human impulse to know and love resides.

These are delightful, original, moving, truthful poems.
Floyd Skloot

What if a definition began to grow in multiple directions? Why not pair the plain with the whimsical, insightful and inspired?

In his delightful box of jewels, Warren Slesinger releases the lexicographer, crafter of definitions, from the role of “harmless drudge.” I love what he has done with the quotidian, and I intend to adopt his practice and smuggle more poetry into the starveling craft of daily discourse.
Kim Stafford



Landslide (land.slide) n-s 1. Drawn
by the force of gravity. The downward
movement of a mass of earth, rocks,
and trees with a shudder that shakes
the ground at the base of a mountain.
2. A complete change with the collapse
of a cliff from the fringe of vegetation
at the edge to debris at the bottom
of a gully. 3. An impossible recovery
when a ledge breaks, and plunges
into space. 4. The failure of a friendship
when it comes suddenly to an end.


Warren Slesinger graduated from the Iowa Writers Workshop with an M.F. A., and taught English part-time while working full-time in the publishing business as an editor, marketing manager or sales manager at the following university presses: Chicago, Oregon, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.

He received an Ingram Merrill grant for writing (1971) and a South Carolina Poetry Fellowship (2003), and teaches part-time at the University of South Carolina-Beaufort. He was awarded the Tony Quagliano International Poetry Award in 2016.

His poetry has been published in several literary magazines, e.g., The Georgia Review, South Carolina Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Iowa Review, Massachusetts Review, and New Letters.

He has been in residence at the Yaddo and MacDowell colonies for writers and Sitka Center for Study of the Arts and Ecology.

Additional information

Weight 8 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .25 in