Our National Poetry Month Celebration continues with Julie Joosten! Today happens to be the official release date of Nought, the highly anticipated follow-up to Joosten’s 2013 debut, Light Light, which was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry. Happy Book Birthday to Nought!
Joosten’s sophomore collection explores the intersections of body, identity, and love. In praise of Nought, acclaimed writer Lisa Robertson writes, ” Joosten composes a phenomenology of care, brings me to the sill of an attentive stillness where I am free to not be myself. It’s a little frightening and a little exhilarating. But in these poems I am welcomed and supported by the shared minutiae of perceiving.”
We’re so pleased to share a poem from Nought with you today! Click on the video to watch Julie read “Dear Friend” and follow along with the text below.
Beside the library lions, the bed is
an island a page a blue door opening
onto the bird in your veins.
Someone writes of a language that
heals as much as it separates; someone
writes of gathering scattered elements
and covering them with words to embolden
existence; someone writes of a language
that restores equilibrium but doesn’t
absolve a debtor from debt.
It’s snowing. There’s a dead boy
whom I loved, whom I love now
as my child.
The locality of love alters. The bird
in your heart holds its silence up to such
distance. Invent a form of “to love.” Invent
a local anguish (pop. 1213).
From thence to thou, bird-shaped and
blue, from thou to thee in the library air
is, met and unmet, extending as electrons
or accidents or architecture—your poem
floods the nervous system.
Birdsong, untongued, becomes a nest—
in the centre this nest is, thy mind’s a
nightingale, blue throat in a field of
shadow. In the darkness beyond blue,
(To share the transport—Oh! with whom
but thee) (A whom whom now
whithersoever in the minds of others—).
We’ve come to this pass. Water closes
over, annihilate (the noun I move as).
Nouns and verbs resemble thought,
a movement marking its arrival
with the warmth of disappearing.
From the ragged edge of spring and the ragged
edge of thought: a way of being: to praise thine:
the mountain the garden borrows.
In the folds of the violet, a violet.
I work to earth my heart.
A rose resembles a blossom.
A blossoming treetop resembles a cloud,
and the flight of a bird a violet
resembles, overtakes both. A falling leaf
resembles a bee, a bee resembles
(Flying, its arcing indifference, light
all over it.)
Poussin’s late trees tremble in the wind
as the water below offers their reflection
to the sky—to the sky its motion—treetops
and clouds undulating to indistinguishability,
a horizontal streaming breath and
The mechanics of rhythm extend
to feeling (rhythmoi referred once
to the positions the body assumed
during a dance, not flow but pause), and I,
existing where feeling is, a line that
climbs through wood branch leaf and
blossom, dissolving each, and the eye,
A perceptual style resembles a
synapse. His brush, his hand, his hand
Julie Joosten’s first book, Light Light, was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry, the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, and the Goldie Award. She won the Malahat Review Long Poem Contest in 2011. She lives and writes in Toronto on the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.