poetry by Ilya Tourtidis
I have often thought that as writers we live most passionately in the bright void between our words. It is our in-between state. The place where we create and make visible our many disguises, as well as the agreements and bargains we have negotiated with forces greater than ourselves – the very place into which we carry the marble core of our emotive burdens, and use it like a mirror to reflect our many paradigms and truths.
Indeed our re-conquest of the soul, the imperative infused in all of us, is nothing less than a calling to create, and to inhabit the small infinities of our words. Ultimately we will perish in this Bardo, our task never quite complete, but we will do so with the logic of radiance and desire, seeking always to transform nothing into something, potentialities into insights, and the memory of our journey, back into the still point of God.
The Immaculate Mask
But wait! That is exactly why we offered no resistance and choked back our memories, craving the treasures of the night. Did you really think it was because we could go no further that we sat the great Redeemer on our knees and begged for another body to do with as we pleased? A thousand times no! We too saw the sky open and fall out of its bluest rim, and heard the song of our fathers in the abyss. We too asked ourselves who would be next to give form to truth, and like the immortals and all their summations, lift something holy from of our lips.
Here I am loneliness... There a harvest. And over there, a serpent rising out of the sudden outpouring of your prayers. And during those times when silence runs deep in you, I am the sound of grace your night birds make in spring. So when men cut the light of stars from their wrists, don't be disturbed... I am not finished with them yet. Just watch me. Keep your eyes on me... a half/mad helmsman, steady as she goes, full of vows and plagues... and four bells a day.
Paperback 5.5 x 8.5 in
– Mike Copes
About the Author
Ilya Tourtidis was born in Greece in 1949. He moved to Australia when he was four years old and to Canada when he was fifteen. Educated at the University of Victoria, he worked as a teacher and later as a School Counselor in the Comox Valley where he now resides. He was Co-winner of the Gerald Lampert Award in 1994 for his first book of poems, Mad Magellan's Tale. A subsequent collection of his poetry, The Spell of Memory was published in 2004. This was followed by a further collection, Path of Descent and Devotion, published in 2009. In addition to poetry, Ilya Tourtidis also writes screenplays, novels, and children's stories.
"The experience of reading Bright Bardo is addictive, much like sailing over water. One is carried by an ebb tide with poetic channel markers that encourage us to continue. Out at sea the voyage is confusing and frightening because there is no chart, no compass, and landfall is just over a horizon, but clearly, never to be reached. It is an enormous, endless nightscape; and the wheel shudders under our hands... Land, sky, water; the he, she and them of the poems; and all the material stuff observed, are flotsam and jetsam interacting in a surprising congruence with the mystery that is our existence."
– Jeff Hartbower
"Being willing to spend time in that in between place that is the Bardo, Tourtidis shares with us the inflations, humilities, confusions and epiphanies that both, attract and repel, comfort and infuriate. Though he asks and evokes as many questions as he answers, he refuses to be bound by the mundane and the holy. His images pull us back and forth between the margins of this life and the ever threatening void that surrounds it... And by allowing no simple resolution to this problem, he invites us to do battle with the conclusions he makes on the tightrope of his at times vivid and disorienting experience.
These poems grapple with the maintenance of a singular voice that sustains the tension between its musicality and the suggestive gist that course through his language with ethereal elusiveness. This language draws the reader to sit side by side with the voice that explores this in between place suggested by the Bardo.
An unsuspecting reader (which we all are), cannot help but be pulled along into this tantalizing discourse."
– Dan Kirk