POASIS: Selected Poems 1986–1999

Pierre Joris, Author POASIS: Selected Poems 1986–1999

For decades, Joris has been a key translator of important avant-garde authors such as Paul Celan (Breathturn), Edmond Jabès and Maurice Blanchot, and editor (with Jerome Rothenberg) of such important volumes as the massive two-volume anthology of international avant-garde poetry, Poems for the Millennium. Joris's first volume of selected poems, Breccia, appeared in a small press edition in 1987; Poasis is Joris's first major publication of his own writing in the United States. He has lived for several years in Great Britain, France, North Africa and now the U.S., and this peripatetic existence strongly informs the style and content of the poems: "He decried the 'citoyen du/ mond' as some Socratic/ blunder—but it is not so,/ Charley, the particular is/ everywhere, is the cosmo-/ politan exactly...." "Charley," in this quote, is Charles Olson, one of the writers who looms large here. Another is Ezra Pound, and Joris's rhetoric can get bogged down between trying to channel bits of history on the one hand, and the demands of objective historical materialism on the other. The best parts of this book are found in plainspoken observations about why Americans can be so dogmatic in their religions, or in "overheard talk about emigrate/immigrate, the different sides of the same coin. Koiné. Porous borders." Here, one senses the complexities of being an interstitial writer, of existing somewhere on the edge of mediated, globalized culture, away from theories of being and economics, yet with all the pulp and paradoxes of these issues delivered in the details. (Mar. 1)

Forecast:The critically well-received Poems for the Millennium and Celan translations won't be enough to generate po-biz interest in this volume, but Joris's solid following in experimental poetry should make for relatively steady sales, and the Wesleyan imprimatur should attract university libraries.

Reviewed on: 02/19/2001
Release date: 03/01/2001
Genre: Poetry
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