Octavio Paz, b. 100 Years ago today…

 

01-Octavio-Paz-gob.jpg-854x440… on March 31, & left eso mundo in April 1998. A day, thus, on which to take time to reread a few of Paz’s poems in Eliot Weinberger’s excellent translations, & probably an essay or so. On the day of his passing I was in Berkeley & wrote the following poem, in memoriam:

6:30 am on terrace of the French Hotel in
Berkeley, reading the New York Times
obituary for Octavio Paz while

across the street just
to the right of Chez Panisse
a pale watery sun

sits locked in-
to the criss-cross webbing
of a tall dark fir —

as if his going had
for a moment stopped
Sol in it’s tracks —

the world a bit colder
after the heat of Paz,
a bit older, less bold,

his ashes raining
now over
Mexican earth.

A light wind shifts
twigs, the sun it
seems to

move in-
crementally higher —
it all does go on

while you now sit with Benito
Juarez & Pancho Villa
& introduce them

to some yankee poetas
Blackburn, say, and Olson still
mumbling “the wheels of the sun

must be unstuck”
& you argue for a
revolution

of the imagination &
we say, Octavio,
gracias for

releasing that sun!

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Pierre Joris

Pierre Joris is a poet, translator, essayist & anthologist who has published more than 50 books, most recently, Meditations on the Stations of Mansur al-Hallaj (poems) from Chax Press and The University of California Book of North African Literature (volume 4 in the Poems for the Millennium series), coedited with Habib Tengour. Exile is My Trade: A Habib Tengour Reader edited & translated by Joris, and Pierre Joris: Cartographies of the In-between, essays on Joris’ work edited by Peter Cockelbergh, came out in 2012. Forthcoming are Barzakh — Poems 2000-2012 (Black Widow Press) & Breathturn Into Timestead:The Collected Later Poems of Paul Celan (FSG).

2 opinions on “Octavio Paz, b. 100 Years ago today…”

  1. He died on my birthday… April 19, 1998. And I have that very NYT obit tucked in that Weinberger trans.

    also: been re:reading Paz’ Alternating Current this week.

    Here is a quote from Paz that Jonathan Kandell included in the obit… calls it Octavio Paz’ literary credo:

    Between what I see and what I say
    Between what I say and what I
    keep silent
    Between what I keep silent and
    what I dream
    Between what I dream and what I
    forget:
    Poetry.

    -the obit was publish April, 21, 1998 and most of it is on page D22 … I guess that the opening is on p. D1

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