5 Questions with_________

Off for a week’s teaching at Naropa, so there will be few posts until I return, meanwhile check out this little interview I gave Maryam Monalisa Gharavi for The New Inquiry:

Five Questions with Pierre Joris

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Five Questions with __________ is an experiment with flash interviews. The series on poets continues with poet, essayist, anthologist, and translator Pierre Joris. Years ago, after the sudden death of a poet I admired I took a personal vow to translate his dense and difficult volume of poetry, spurring me on to find poets who had already wrestled with that beastly endeavor.  Pierre had arrived to discuss his legendary translations of Paul Celan. What really grabbed my attention, though, was a tattoo on his arm carved with the Arabic word hajara (هجر to emigrate or relinquish, in the sense of exile). To this day I have not seen a more striking tattoo.

In what city do you most easily shed your invisible social armor?

I first read ‘invincible’ in which case no shedding would be required or advisable. Now, if it is ‘invisible,’ then the question becomes: invisible for whom, for me or for the social entities (socialites as in social-lite-s?). I’m only half-kidding—the question puzzles me somewhat. And I don’t know if or how it relates to cities. At first I was going to write ‘in Lyonnesse’ the great magical imaginary city of Arthurian legend, but in truth it is the city that has always been my favorite one—maybe because it allows that shedding—and that is New York.

Click here for the whole piece.


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