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It’s a pretty ambitious goal to write an epic poem in a day. Bernadette Mayer’s Midwinter Day, an epic about the daily routine written on Winter Solstice 1978, is like no other project that I know of, except for Canto Diurno #1. That 1986 poem by Pierre Joris is also a very ambitious effort to make a poem “as large as I / could make it.” That he’d call it a “canto” is evocative of Ezra Pound. That he can talk about it 36 years after the fact is our pleasure.

Pierre Joris was born on Bastille Day in 1946 in Strasbourg, France, and raised in Luxembourg. He’s moved between the US, Europe & North Africa for 55 years, published more than 50 books of poetry, essays, anthologies, plays & translations. His translations of the poetry of Paul Celan are a tremendous gift to world literature, as are his collaborations with Jerome Rothenberg on editing the anthology Poems for the Millennium, Volumes I & II. We caught up with him via Zoom, May 2, 2022.

After the interview:

Dear Paul,

was a pleasure doing that interview with you yesterday! — Even if my weird state of… brain made me forget so much (not only Bloomington, Indiana!) — when you asked about the Mothers, I should have really also talked about who/what I am reading right now — besides the poets & my collaborations with Nicole & our thinking through what we call our “Karstic Actions” — & that includes the likes of Belgian philosopher Vinciane Despret (major thinking through / anew / for the first time, in fact the matter of animal connections, birds, for ex. see her book: Habiter en Oiseau / Living as a Bird, and What Would Animals Say If We Asked the Right Questions?), Donna Haraway ( When Species Meet; Staying with the Trouble), Isabelle Stengers, & a few more. For another occasion, maybe — but wanted you to know — those are fascinating developments against that male/epic Western Civ, stuff we talked about.

Thanks again for the occasion — & do put me in touch with that Canadian poet you mentioned,

un abrazo,

Pierre Joris