Sunday, April 6, 2014

National Poetry Month: Pierre Joris

"Altars of Light"
(Pierre Joris)

If the light is the soul 
then soul is what's 
all around me.

It is you, 
it is around you too, 
it is you.

The darkness is inside me, 
the opaqueness of organs folded 
upon organs-- 

to make light in the house of
the body-- 
     thus to bring the
outside in,
     the impossible job.

   And the only place to become
the skin
   the border, the inbetween, where
dark meets light, where I meets

   In the house of world the 
many darknesses are surrounded 
by light.

   To see the one, we need 
the other / it cuts both ways

   light on light is blind 
   dark on dark is blind

   light through dark is not

   dark through light is movement
   dark through light becomes,
is becoming,
     to move through
light is becoming,

   is all
     we can know.

Pierre Joris is an author, translator, poet and educator, and curates the blog Nomadics. With Jerome Rothenberg he co-edited a two volume anthology of 20th century avant-garde writings, Poems for the Millennium: The University of California Book of Modern & Postmodern Poetry [1996] and pppppp: Selected Writings of Kurt Schwitters [1994].    His most recent books are Meditations on the Stations of Mansur al-Hallaj (poems) from Chax Press, and Diwan Iffrikya: The University of California Book of North African Literature, co-edited with Habib Tengour from the University of California Press.

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