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DiscoverVerse: Yusuf Saadi + Pluviophile
Our interview with poet Yusuf Saadi turns the final page on our Poetry Month celebrations! Yusuf takes on the last round of our ALU DiscoverVerse with his collection Pluviophile (Nightwood Editions), a Baudrillard-ian playground where words die and are reborn under sacred signifiers. Read on for the full interview where we chat about editing, interplanetary food competitions and the pleasure of a quiet walk.
Interview with Yusuf SaadiAll Lit Up: What did you learn writing Pluviophile? Yusuf Saadi: The collection includes my earliest poems as well as recent ones, so my instincts as a writer and person have shifted in that span, and I’d imagine readers can identify the poems by the younger writer. The earlier ones tend to be narratively linear – now I think poems stronger when they’re driven by images and rhythms rather than narrative logic. Also, with the guidance of mentors I met at Banff, I think my editing eye improved – cutting unnecessary articles and verbs in particular. For example, I published a poem in a journal with the lines “a raindrop streaks down the glass like / my tongue down your skin.” For the collection, I managed to take out “the” which makes the poem tighter and rhythm streakier. Those minor changes accumulate.ALU: If you were a character in a Choose Your Own Adventure story, what kind of quest would you be on? What three things would you have with you on your journey?YS: My crew and I travel on flying bicycles as expert-transporters for an interplanetary food competition where rumour has it that some of the dishes are so delicious they provide transcendent and occasionally divine experiences, taking place amidst a backdrop of rising conservative political agendas which are attempting to transform the agricultural traditions in these world into monocultures in order to grow corn oil which would threaten culinary diversity and thus the possibility for meaningful aesthetic experiences. So basically, our world in 2020. I would have my lightweight flying bicycle named Jibonananda that can also ride on water, a small velvet pouch that I can reach into which contains an unlimited supply of my mother’s hot sauce (both for taste and as weapon if need be), and fragments from ancient cookbook that is said to contain recipes for ambrosia. (I just asked my sister this question. She said a forest adventure with a hot man, a backpack full of organic canned vegetables (and weapons), and a cat.) ALU: Where do you draw inspiration from outside of poetry?YS: I like to do a lot of quiet walks away from the city when I can. ALU: Help us with a poetry prompt for our readers. Can you come up with a writing prompt for our readers to write their own poetry?YS: Write a poem that includes or modifies the line “find the moral world enough.”
A poem from PluviophileThe Taxi Driver’s TherapyKOLKATA’S KLAXONS corrode the wiring inyour skull: a child, you watched the Brahminsacrifice a goat at Kali temple, bare feet wereislands on its blood. Your mother whisperedthis is how we cleanse our hearts, but you can’trecall what this means. Now you’re hanginga bare foot from your taxi window, blisteredtoes antennae to scan the city for her voice.Instead of Ma’s eyes, you dream of two blackcrows sharing a cigarette on an awning—they light another, alight together forwherever crows go when outside of humanexperience. Your side mirror sniffs at women’ssilken saris; the writing on the mirror statessummer is a time for reveries. In the alley, peopleare moving through each other, not ghosts,but so alive their skins a porous border.
* * *Yusuf Saadi’s first collection, Pluviophile, is forthcoming from Nightwood Editions (April, 2020). He previously won the 2016 Vallum Chapbook Award and the The Malahat Review‘s 2016 Far Horizons Award for Poetry. At other times, his writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Best Canadian Poetry 2019, Vallum, Brick, Canadian Notes & Queries, Best Canadian Poetry 2018, Arc Poetry Magazine, Grain, CV2, Prairie Fire, PRISM, Hamilton Arts & Letters, The Puritan, THIS, and untethered. He holds an MA in English from the University of Victoria and currently lives in Montreal.
* * *During the month of April, you can buy Pluviophile and any of our featured DiscoverVerse books for 20% off! PLUS: FREE shipping!Keep up with us all month on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook with the hashtag #ALUdiscoververse. BONUS:Play our Choose Your Own Poetry game where YOU are the narrator! Choose from multiple paths on the way to one ultimate goal: visiting your local bookstore to browse poetry. As you move through the story you will find poetry books to collect in your tote bag. There are a total of 36 poetry books to discover across the various paths with 12 possible endings. Which poetry collections will you find on your path?Playing time: 1-2 minutes per path. To play, click the link below to start the download. DiscoverVerse: Choose Your Own Poetry Game