Charles Simic

This morning I was listening to a reading Charles Simic gave at Cornell in 2008. (I dowloaded it from iTunes onto the shuffle and listened as I walked with Waldo.) Listening I was reminded me of the time I met him way back in the early 90s when he gave a reading at Gettysburg College. I don't remember the year, but I think it was 1993 or maybe 1994. It was great to get reconnected with a poet I admire greatly and who I have translated to Spanish. In fact, we had some brief correspondence when I was translating some of his poems and he was very gracious. Simic was the US poet laureate for 2007-08. He is a wonderful poet and has a wonderful sense of humor. From his book The World Doesn't End is a prose poem that begins, "We were so poor I had to take the place of the bait in the mousetrap." Fantastic! It gets better. The mouse tells him, as he nibbles on the boy's ears: "These are dark and evil days." So, thanks, Charles, for sharing your imagination! Yesterday I was listening to John Ashbery, a very different kind of poet. Ashbery's narrative sensibility seems to me to be oriented towards larger gaps and the reader/listener has to make connections. The rewards can be great, but sometimes one pays the price of being made to feel tired and uninterested.

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