Every week, the editors of The Paris Review lift the paywall on a selection of interviews, stories, poems, and more from the magazine’s archive. You can have these unlocked pieces delivered straight to your inbox every Sunday by signing up for the Redux newsletter.
PHOTO COURTESY OF ANTONELLA ANEDDA ANGIOY.
“Spring like a gun to the head,” Dorothea Lasky writes in a poem in our latest issue, “Green how I want you.” It’s been a strange, uncertain season, and now that the weather is turning and the cherry trees are beginning to blossom, we’re revisiting some works that evoke the cruelest month: an interview with the Italian poet Antonella Anedda; a story by Ira Sadoff that makes romancing a florist sound wistful yet thrilling; Elizabeth Brewster Thomas’s poem in which “beneath your feet a thousand spores of ice / blossom in darkness”; and a collaboration between Ben Lerner and the photographer Thomas Demand, featuring a profusion of paper flowers. (And if you pick up a copy of our Spring issue, you’ll also find collages by the late artist Birdie Lusch, who pasted newspaper clippings onto Hallmark catalogues to make her glorious bouquets.)
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The Art of Poetry No. 109
The first poem I ever heard was by Aleksandr Blok, on the radio in a small village in Sardinia. It’s an early work that begins, “Carried on the breeze, / the Spring’s music drifted from far, far away.” The poem was about space and wind—how the wind breaks open the clouds to reveal a strip of blue sky.
What was it that moved you?
When I was seven, a member of my family, a person I loved, died in front of me. Suddenly her body was a thing without a voice. Listening to Blok’s poem—I was thirteen or fourteen—I thought that perhaps poetry could create a relationship with absence, with death, transposing the present into another space and time.
From issue no. 234 (Fall 2019)
I could not help myself, I fell in love with the florist. Each day he handed me arrangements of flowers: lilies-of-the-valley, chrysanthemums and roses, exotic willows and violets. As a lover he was strange and melancholy: he had an intense hatred for the out-of-doors and almost never left the house; the mention of sports made him dizzy and a car moving too fast would bring him close to tears. … When he threatened to leave I became the carnation in his lapel, I was his brooch. When the weather became warm and clear, somehow it was he who wrapped me in a blanket, dragged me outside to a park; and when we made love I was the one who wilted, I felt my color brush off on his chin.
From issue no. 68 (Winter 1976)
Consolation: After Rilke
Elizabeth Brewster Thomas
Spring again. Wet April calls the blue
from the sky, would give me names
for all the green things writhing from the earth’s
numb body. But I’ve been too long
a student of the winter, have memorized the lines
of trees whipped bare by wind—I’ve learned to love
the gray in your hair.
From issue no. 173 (Spring 2005)
Ben Lerner & Thomas Demand
Blossoming en masse, in time lapse
You refer to a place where water flows
Over a vertical drop in culture / Poems
Fail to mention fission or decay
In the traditional ways, focusing instead
Then renouncing focus, a shimmering effect
From issue no. 212 (Spring 2015)
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