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This week at The Paris Review, we’re feeling esoteric. In the cards are Kay Ryan’s Art of Poetry interview, Fernanda Melchor’s “They Called Her the Witch,” and Charles Bernstein’s “Twelve-Year Universal Horoscope.”
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Kay Ryan, The Art of Poetry No. 94
Issue no. 187 (Winter 2008)
I’d bought a tarot deck—this was the seventies—a standard one with a little accompanying book that explained how to read the cards, lay them out, shuffle them—all those things. But I’m not a student and was totally impatient with learning anything about the cards. I thought they were just interesting to look at. But I did use the book’s shuffling method, which was very elaborate, and in the morning I’d turn one card over and whatever that card was I would write a poem about it. The card might be Love, or it might be Death. My game, or project, was to write as many poems as there were cards in the deck. But since I couldn’t control which cards came up, I’d write some over and over again and some I’d never see. That gave me range. I always understood that to write poetry was to be totally exposed. But in the seventies I only had models of ripping off your clothes, and I couldn’t do that. My brain could be naked, but I didn’t want to be naked. Nor was I interested in the heart, or love. The tarot helped me see that I could write about anything—even love if required—and retain the illusion of not being exposed. If one is writing well, one is totally exposed. But at the same time, one has to feel thoroughly masked or protected.
They Called Her the Witch
By Fernanda Melchor
Translated by Sophie Hughes
Issue no. 231 (Winter 2019)
They called her the Witch, the same as her mother; the Girl Witch when she first started trading in curses and cures, and then, when she wound up alone, the year of the landslide, simply the Witch.
Twelve-Year Universal Horoscope
By Charles Bernstein
Issue no. 230, Fall 2019
Key: A Aries, T Taurus, G Gemini, C Cancer, L Leo, V Virgo, Li Libra, S Scorpio, Sa Sagittarius, Ca Capricorn, Aq Aquarius, P Pisces. Each section covers one year, then rotates.
A2019, T2020, G2021, C2022, L2023, V2024, Li2025, S2026, Sa2027, Ca2028, Aq2029, P2030
Anticipated reversals occur in unanticipated locations: avoid planar surfaces. As Saturn and Pluto come into alignment, prepare for irrepressible nostalgia. Casual attachments provide a medley of diversions from long-term fantasies. Mix of sulfur and magnesium is at its height on the twelfth and twenty-ninth: stay clear of disarticulating headwinds while remaining open to miscalibrated address. Seek pine- and coconut-flavored dishes. Preferred alcohol: Anisette (neat) …
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