Pierre Joris: This afternoon Dante

This afternoon Dante
will be ex-
pelled from Florence —
a good thing as how could he
have written so well
on the far-away imaginary ex-
ile of the comically divine
realms had he not known
what it meant to walk
over a cold January day’s
ground frost, clod-
breaking, heart beating,
from one city to another
— to come to
this: that exile
is but the next step you take
the unknown there
where your foot comes
next, in
heaven or on earth
exile is when you can still
lift a foot
exile is when you are not
yet dead.

Originally published in Barzakh (Poems 2000-2013), Black Widow Press, Boston 2014



Pierre Joris has moved between Europe, the US & North Africa for 55 years, publishing over 80 books of poetry, essays, translations & anthologies — most recently Fox-trails, -tales & -trots (Black Fountain Press), the translations Memory Rose into Threshold Speech: The Collected Earlier Poetry of Paul Celan (FSG) & Microliths: Posthumous Prose of Paul Celan (CMP) & A City Full of Voices: Essays on the Work of Robert Kelly. Earlier, Arabia (not so) Deserta (Essays, Spuyten Duyvil 2019), Conversations in the Pyrenees with Adonis (CMP 2018), & The Book of U/ Le livre des cormorans (with Nicole Peyrafitte, Simoncini 2017). When not on the road, he lives in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, with his wife, multimedia praticienne Nicole Peyrafitte.


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