I am afraid, dear illuminator,
to tell you the truth. – “Book of Hours (Two)”
Of all the sweet, sweet things I saw/met/read/drank at AWP, one of the sweeter ones was a little chapbook called Illuminatrix, by a poet named Alexis Orgera. Illuminatrix is published by Forklift, Ink, the book arm of Matt Hart & Eric Appleby’s immeasurably badass magazine Forklift, Ohio. Anyway, my magazine was sharing a booth with Forklift, and so I was able to acquire Alexis’s book and spend a bit of time with her, without having to even leave the confines of our little patch of carpeting. It was very Dorothy Gale. (I was wearing beautiful red shoes.)
Illuminatrix is a skinny, fascinating book. Light is not exactly a novel theme for poetry, but this is surely a take on it that you’ve never encountered before. Orgera isn’t interested in light which dapples birch branches or reminds the poet of his childhood home–this is anything but SoQ country, is my point–her light issues forth from the place where physics meets metaphysics; it hearkens back to a time when mathematics was a branch of philosophy, then suitably distorts that mindset so it can live in a world of electric vacuums and lamps. Orgera’s “illuminators” are characters, all sharing the same name/title and therefore distinguished only by their actions–or else the poet’s frame of mind when, as above, she addresses one of them directly. In fact they are not distinguishable from one another. It is as if they have obtained a fluidity of identity and being, or perhaps are all part of the same secret order of shining ninja monks. After the jump, I Q&A with Alexis about her book, Florida, Dean Young and Courtney Love. But first! A poem from Illuminatrix:
There was some wabi-sabi between them
and like cherry blossoms they fell
into bed. There’s nothing in me that’s light, she said.
He buried his head between her legs
to make her sing. But there was no song
in her. She was thinking
about the impermanence of motion.
He was thinking about the inescapable
nothingness he felt on Sunday afternoons.
How life is a series of lightbulbs nobody uses.
A series of odd delinquencies called weekends
in which the ancient wabi-sabi drools between them.