Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Charles Simic in conversation with Tea Obreht at Stand, NYC

Monday night, I had the pleasure of spending an hour at Strand listening to former Poet Laureate Charles Simic being interviewed by Tea Obreht.  He read from his massive oeuvre (34 volumes!!!) and from his new collection of poems, Master of Disguises, and spoke a bit about his influences and memories that inspired his work.  

Simic was hilarious!  Approachable, with a self-deprecating humility, his work is grounded in his experience, but heightened by his masterful command of language and image. A few gems from the interview/discussion:

  • Simic on writing poetry over a 50+ year career:  "The nice thing about poems is that you have no memory of how they were written."
  • Simic on confessional poetry:  "If a poet is a good liar, I think that's fine."
  • Simic talked about how important revision was in his work, about how he can write 4-5 pages and end up with a five line poem.  
  • He also talked a lot about translation, and about how there are a few works he would love to go back and re-translate, because the more time he spends with a piece, the more things he discovers in the writing and meaning.
All in all, a great evening.  I discovered the work of a supremely talented poet and got to meet Obreht, who is unbelievably talented for being so young.

Some of Simic's work:
By Charles Simic

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