Paris Views by Michael Joyce
|Paris Views||Michael Joyce||BlazeVOX [books]|
Anyone who loves Paris will find that literarily-overdetermined city brought to new life---new and not particularly literary, for through Joyce’s sharp, quick, and cleverly amorous eye, Paris is evoked not as objet d’art, but as sloppily, raucously, lived; as an idiosyncratic confluence of specific instances that shed deep light on the way that individual perception and experience sculpt public space. Throughout, he makes the most of a delightful and visceral head-on collision of languages to construct a space between all utterance that is raw and always reaching out for its word---which, though not yet arrived, can be felt coming into being through that collision itself.
— Cole Swensen
The pleasure of slowly walking, vieux pantouflard & flâneur that I am, through a city & two languages I love is always a treat — & is positively relished when I can do it from the comfort of my Schlendrian armchair, eye-tip-toeing gently & at leisure, savoring each word & phrase of these sharp, lovely, rich poems. I’m home, here & there, in this book & in that city.
Oui, bien sûr, la traduction entres les langues est impossible, but what happens here is better: in a language that has no word for "home," Michael Joyce tries to find out what one is by wandering the weird labyrinthine and counterintuitive transfer points (comme le Paris Métro, je pense!) entre anglais et français. Franchement, ce n'est pas "Franglish" qu'on va trouver in this book mais a different kind of synchronicity, not a mélange of languages fusing but rather a scintillating point where chaque langue existe seule et ensemble tous le deux at the same time and toujours.
"How do you say we are longing to mean something?" With poetry that registers the migratory subject's occasional glimpse of les bonheurs in the midst of self-estrangement, each view captured "in a language we / can't understand although by now we know the words." The frissons here arise not from the fluent excursions into Franglais or their corresponding aperçus, but from the "untranslatable" difference between what we will (to) remember and what we remember, yet another trace of that inexorable "universe of silence" which, whether it "possesses us" or we it, underwrites our eloquence. There may be "no second act in heaven" or in American lives, but here, in these deeply felt and brilliantly nuanced poems, lyric splendor is making a formidable comeback.
— Joe Amato
· Paperback: 100 pages
· Binding: Perfect-Bound
· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books]
· ISBN: 978-1-60964-089-7
About the Author: a self-interview
Please describe growing up in South Buffalo.
In my Buffalo novel, The War Outside Ireland, the central conceit was how we are formed of our stories as well as how the “family mind” authors those stories for and of us. Growing up in South Buffalo there were eight of us kids, four of each of the then available genders, and so there were many stories, making the family mind quadraphonic if not schizophrenic. What I recall most was the teeming chaos, the pure energy of South Buffalo life (most evident on the Fourth of July which, until I lived near Detroit, seemed the nearest thing to living in an anarchistic banana republic that I could imagine). In my collection of essays and fictions, Moral Tales and Meditations, I have a series of short memoirs and speculations—the meditations—some of which center on growing up there, seeing my first TV (with Howdy Doody and Buffalo Bob upon it), going to the Cazenovia park during Bethlehem Steel strikes, and so on. Each of my brothers and sisters became poets and storytellers of a sort, some professionally as teachers, writers, actors, ministers, comics. We grew up with a benign sense that we were loved and that everyone shared an unspoken understanding that life was all a grand joke, which only sometimes came a cropper when someone beat the shit out of you at the skating rink for instance or a girlfriend ran away with someone. Then, of course, we grew older and people began to die. My earliest writings were stories I bound up like little novels, complete with illustrations: a boy with magic pills, a cowboy who in retrospect seems to anticipate Don Quixote. I was probably not much older than five and my audience was, like most Irish-American kids, my mother.
What were your most important childhood memories?
In retrospect they turn out to be lingering in the kitchen among the aunts– whether literally or figuratively sitting under the table I can’t say now– listening to how these women held the world together (and held our fathers together as well, although often the two were one then) with stories and laughter, occasional song, and mysterious whispered complaints that my young ears couldn’t pick out from the din. The men were elsewhere, drinking whiskey and beer, telling their own stories, and, as the Pogues lyric goes, giving lectures on ancient Irish history. The other kids were still farther away heading toward twilight, shouting in the streets, filching discount pop from the spanking new garbage cans which served as ice filled summer coolers, or from the unheated porches in winter.
What things do you like best about Buffalo?
My family would say that number one for me is having a hot dog at Ted’s (I still mourn the loss of Pat’s on Sheridan Drive). But I would add to that list Buffalo pizza and real chicken wings (although I tend to order anything called “Buffalo chicken wings” anywhere, including odd spice-dusted things in a Russian restaurant in Prague). To feed the soul I spend time with those of my family who still live there. I also try to go to Talking Leaves whenever I can for the same reason I eat at Ted’s or have real wings, because it is a real bookstore and an invaluable cultural resource, much in the same sense that BlazeVOX and Starcherone are. Both presses continue in the real tradition of American publishing, not just feeding the soul, but extending the edges of what we are able to see.
What’s the conventional version?
Michael Joyce’s poems have been published in Beloit Poetry Journal, FOLLY (LA), Gastronomica, nor/, The Iowa Review, New Letters, Notre Dame Review, Parthenon West, Spoon River Review, New Review, OR (Otis Review), The Common, and THE SHOp (Cork). Together with Gabriella Frykhamn he has published translations of the Swedish modernist poet Karin Boye in Spoon River Review, Metamorphoses, and Notre Dame Review.
In the early 1990’s The New York Times called his digital novel afternoon "the granddaddy of hypertext fictions." It has since been anthologized in the Norton Anthology of Postmodern American Fiction and translated into various languages with a French translation to be published by Editions HYX (Paris) in 2012. He published several other hypertext fictions on the web and on disk, including "On the Birthday of the Stranger" in the inaugural online edition of the Evergreen Review, as well as the fictions Twilight, A Symphony, and Twelve Blue. His most recent print novel, Was: Annales Nomadique, a novel of internet, was published by Fiction Collective 2 in 2007. Another novel, Liam's Going was reissued in paperback by McPherson and Company in 2009. His first novel, The War Outside Ireland, won the Great Lakes New Writers Award. In recent years he has been collaborating in multimedia work with LA visual artist Alexandra Grant. Together with his wife Carolyn Guyer, he lives along the Hudson River near Poughkeepsie where he is Professor of English at Vassar College.