Yusuf Saadi

copyright ©2021

We were busy worshipping
words. Shipping worlds

through string. We held eardrums
to heartbeats to confirm

we were still alive. Someone unchained
the sun from its orbit. We watched it drift

like a curious child beyond the Oort cloud. Dimming
until it was another star in the night’s freckles

and even the day lost its name. We looked
at our hands with unfamiliarity. Trying to understand

the opaqueness of texture. Our moulting bones
discarded. Our new elbows reptilian.

The latest language stripped of meter,
rhyme, beauty. We were warned: there are no straight lines in nature.

Women sang new myths. Men planted
numbers in the soil to see if the fruits

could solve our problems. We invented
new gods and crooned when we remembered

how to brush each other’s hair. Music played
in a distant never. Insects danced

in a different hemisphere of our brain
or of the earth. We often tried to look up,

but we could only see our feet,
alien and hairless.

Notes on the Poem

Our Poem of the Week continues to feature this year’s Griffin Poetry Prize shortlisted authors. We’re excited to share “Posthuman” by Yusuf Saadi from the 2021 Griffin Poetry Prize shortlisted collection, Pluviophile. Replete with ethereal imagery of night, clouds, and stars, Pluviophile teaches us to “dream-underwater.” It reconfigures our sensory perceptions of the world by creating a new physics of intimacy (“I wish I could touch you—/ not like two electrons repulsing…, but hold you how I hold a hand when I’m afraid—). In “Posthuman,” Saadi imagines a world past the threshold, a place in which humans are no longer humans yet retain a child-like curiosity towards the persistent mysteries of material phenomena. Of Pluviophile, the judges say: “’There are whispers in the letters,’ writes Yusuf Saadi in poems that search everywhere for mystery, for magic, for beauty. And beauty speaks back, renews itself (and us) in these pages. Where other poets find moon, Saadi sees ‘moon's kneecap,’ where others see mere daffodils, Saadi asks: ‘Do daffodils dissolve in your / unpractised inner eye?’ This is the poet who is unafraid of play: ‘Outside of Kantian space and time, do you miss dancing / in dusty basements where sex was once phenomenal?’ This, too, is the poet unafraid of the daily grind, of ‘writing poetry at night / with the rust of our lives’. Pluviophile is a beautiful, refreshing debut.” Learn more about Pluviophile in this interview. Listen to Saadi perform “Root Canal” in this CBC Arts illustrated video.

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