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A New York Review Books OriginalThe distinguished Croatian journalist and publisher Slavko Goldstein says, "Writing this book about my family, I have tried not to separate what happened to us from the fates of many other people and of an entire country." 1941: The Year That Keeps Returning is Goldstein's astonishing historical memoir of that fateful year--when the Ustasha, the pro-fascist nationalists, were brought to power in Croatia by the Nazi occupiers of Yugoslavia. On April 10, when the German troops marched into Zagreb, the Croatian capital, they were greeted as liberators by the Croats. Three days later, Ante Pavelić, the future leader of the Independent State of Croatia, returned from exile in Italy and Goldstein's father, the proprietor of a leftist bookstore in Karlovac--a beautiful old city fifty miles from the capital--was arrested along with other local Serbs, communists, and Yugoslav sympathizers. Goldstein was only thirteen years old, and he would never see his father again. More than fifty years later, Goldstein seeks to piece together the facts of his father's last days. The moving narrative threads stories of family, friends, and other ordinary people who lived through those dark times together with personal memories and an impressive depth of carefully researched historic details. The other central figure in Goldstein's heartrending tale is his mother--a strong, resourceful woman who understands how to act decisively in a time of terror in order to keep her family alive. From 1941 through 1945 some 32,000 Jews, 40,000 Gypsies, and 350,000 Serbs were slaughtered in Croatia. It is a period in history that is often forgotten, purged, or erased from the history books, which makes Goldstein's vivid, carefully balanced account so important for us today--for the same atrocities returned to Croatia and Bosnia in the 1990s. And yet Goldstein's story isn't confined by geographical boundaries as it speaks to the dangers and madness of ethnic hatred all over the world and the urgent need for mutual understanding.
The Book of Blam, Aleksandar Tišma's "extended kaddish . . . [his] masterpiece" (Kirkus Reviews), is a modern-day retelling of the book of Job. The war is over. Miroslav Blam walks along the former Jew Street, and he remembers. He remembers Aaron Grün, the hunchbacked watchmaker; and Eduard Fiker, a lamp merchant; and Jakob Mentele, a stove fitter; and Arthur Spitzer, a grocer, who played amateur soccer and had non-Jewish friends; and Sándor Vértes, a lawyer who was a Communist. All dead. As are his younger sister and his best friend, a Serb, both of whom joined the resistance movement; and his mother and father in the infamous Novi Sad raid in January 1942--when the Hungarian Arrow Cross executed 1,400 Jews and Serbs on the banks of the Danube and tossed them into the river.Blam lives. The war he survived will never be over for him.
Loneliness, loss, sadness, and mystery mark this wonderful volume of forty-nine poems by Charles Simic, winner of the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and praised as "one of the truly imaginative writers of our time" by the Los Angeles Times.
As former U.S. poet laureate Charles Simic has said, the secret to our identities lies not in grand events, but in the parentheses between events--and in these brief essays, we get a taste of this great poet's parenthetical observations and recollections. He takes us from his rattling house on a stormy New Hampshire night, to a park bench in Washington Square where two old men sit discussing the women they've known, to a business convention in Topeka where he reads a poem, to the vanished subterranean jazz clubs of old New York, and beyond. Part autobiographical fragment, part waking dream, these pieces are marked by Simic's characteristic wit, audacity, and awe before life's strangeness.
Novica Tadic is Serbia's leading poet and the linguistic heir to Vasko Popa. With this translation, US Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winner Charles Simic brings the full range of Tadic's dark beauty to light:I dream how on a flat surfaceI set down knives of various shapes and sizes.Already there are so many of themI can't count them,or see them all. Someone's being done inby those knives.Novica Tadic has won most major Serbian literary awards, including the prestigious Laureat Nagrade. Charles Simic's latest poetry collection is That Little Something (Harcourt, 2008).
Novica Tadic is Serbia's leading poet and the linguistic heir to Vasko Popa. With this translation, US Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Charles Simic brings the full range of Tadic's dark beauty to light.
In this volume, Simic fills the wee hours of his poetry with angels and pigs, riddles and cemeteries. His is a rich, haunted world of East European memory and american present-a world of his own creation, one always full of luminous surprise. "Simic writes so simply that his words fall like drops of water, but they ripple outward to evoke an ominous and numinous world" (Washington Post Book World).
Laure-Anne Bosselaar's poetry captures the lives of "lost souls roaming"--be they young girls in convents, merchants, whores, widows, soldiers. Old Europe still lives in Bosselaar's rich language: Entre chien et loup, as it's known in Flanders--the time at dusk when a wolf can be mistaken for a dog.
In this new collection of sixty-two poems Charles Simic paints exquisite and shattering word pictures that lend meaning to a chaotic world populated by insects, bridal veils, pallbearers, TV sets, parrots, and a finely detailed dragonfly. Suffused with hope yet unafraid to mock his own credulity, Simic's searing metaphors unite the solemn with the absurd. His raindrops listen to each other fall and collect memories; his wildflowers are drunk with kissing the red-hot breezes; and his God is a Mr. Know-it-all, a wheeler-dealer, a wire-puller. In this latest lyrical gathering, Simic continues to startle his fans with the powerful and surprising images that are his trademark-slangy images of the ethereal, fantastic visions of the everyday, foreign scenes of the all-American-and moments full of humor and full of heartache.
A collection of new and selected essays by the Pulitzer Prize winner and former poet laureateIn addition to being one of America's most famous and commended poets, Charles Simic is a prolific and talented essayist. The Life of Images brings together his best prose work written over twenty-five years.A blend of the thoughtful, comic, and tragic, the essays in The Life of Images explore subjects ranging from poetry to philosophy, photography, politics, and art, to Simic's childhood in a war-torn country. Culled from five collections, these works demonstrate the qualities that make Simic's poetry so original yet accessible. Whether he is pondering the relationship between history and the individual, or recalling growing up in Belgrade and New York City, Simic shares his distinctive take on the world and offers an intimate look into the life and mind of an immigrant.
From Pulitzer Prize winner and former poet laureate charles simic comes a dazzling collection of poems as original, meditative, and humorous as the poet himselfThis latest volume of poetry from Charles Simic, one of America's most celebrated poets, demonstrates his revered signature style--a mix of wry melancholy and sardonic wit. These seventy luminous poems range in subject from mortality to personal ads, from the simple wonders of nature to his childhood in war-torn Yugoslavia.For more than fifty years, Simic has delighted readers with his innovative form, quiet humor, and his rare ability to limn our interior life and concisely capture the depth of human emotion. These stunning, succinct poems validate and reinforce Simic's importance and relevance in modern poetry.
In his first volume of poetry since his tenure as poet laureate, Charles Simic shows he is at the height of his poetic powers. These new poems mine the rich strain of inscrutability in ordinary life, until it is hard to know what is innocent and what ominous. There is something about his work that continues to be crystal clear and yet deeply weighted with violence and mystery. Reading it is like going undercover. The face of a girl carrying a white dress from the cleaners with her eyes half-closed. The Adam & Evie Tanning Salon at night. A sparrow on crutches. A rubber duck in a shooting gallery on a Sunday morning. And someone in a tree swing, too old to be swinging and to be wearing no clothes at all, blowing a toy trumpet at the sky.
"Nabokovian in his caustic charm and sexy intelligence, Simic perceives the mythic in the mundane and pinpoints the perpetual suffering that infuses human life with both agony and bliss. . . . And he is the master of juxtaposition, lining up the unlikeliest of pairings and contrasts as he explores the nexuses of madness and prophecy, hell and paradise, lust and death."--Donna Seaman, Booklist"As one reads the pithy, wise, occasionally cranky epigrams and vignettes that fill this volume, there is the definite sense that we are getting a rare glimpse into several decades worth of private journals--and, by extension are privy to the tickings of an accomplished and introspective literary mind."--Rain TaxiWritten over many years, this book is a collection of notebook entries by our current Poet Laureate.Excerpts:Stupidity is the secret spice historians have difficulty identifying in this soup we keep slurping.Ars poetica: trying to make your jailers laugh.American identity is really about having many identities simultaneously. We came to America to escape our old identities, which the multiculturalists now wish to restore to us.Ambiguity is the world's condition. Poetry flirts with ambiguity. As a "picture of reality" it is truer than any other. This doesn't mean that you're supposed to write poems no one understands.The twelve girls in the gospel choir sang as if dogs were biting their asses.What an outrage! This very moment gone forever!
This new collection of poems from Charles Simic demonstrates once again his wit, moral acuity, and brilliant use of imagery. His settings are a farmhouse porch, a used-clothing store, empty station platforms; his subjects love, futility, and the sense of an individual life lived among a crowd of literal and imaginary presences.Both sharp and sympathetic, the poems of this collection confirm Simic's place as one of the most important and appealing poets of our time.To DreamsI'm still living at all the old addresses,Wearing dark glasses even indoors,On the hush-hush sharing my bedWith phantoms, visiting in the kitchenAfter midnight to check the faucet.I'm late for school, and when I get thereNo one seems to recognize me.I sit disowned, sequestered and withdrawn.These small shops open only at nightWhere I make my unobtrusive purchases,These back-door movie houses in seedy neighborhoodsStill showing grainy films of my life,The hero always full of extravagant hopeLosing it all in the end?-whatever it was-Then walking out into the cold, disbelieving lightWaiting close-lipped at the exit.
"It takes just one glimpse of Charles Simic's work to establish that he is a master, ruler of his own eccentric kingdom of jittery syntax and signature insight." -Los Angeles Times For over fifty years, Charles Simic has been widely celebrated for his brilliant and innovative poetic imagery, his sardonic wit, and a voice all his own. He has been awarded nearly every major literary prize for his poetry, including a Pulitzer and a MacArthur grant, in addition to serving as the poet laureate of the United States in 2007 and 2008. In this new volume, he distills his life's work, combining for the first time the best of his early poems with his later works--including nearly three dozen revisions--along with seventeen new, never-before-published poems. Simic's body of work draws inspiration from a range of topics, from the inscrutability of ordinary life to American blues, from folktales to marriage and war. Consistently exciting and unexpected, the nearly four hundred poems in this volume represent the best of one of America's most distinguished and original poets.
The poems in Charles Simic's new collection evoke a variety of settings and images, from New York City to small New England towns; from crowds spilling onto the sidewalk on a hot summer night to an abandoned wooden church and a car graveyard overgrown with weeds. His subjects range from a bakery early in the morning to the fingerprints on a stranger's front door; from waiters in an empty restaurant to the decorations in a window of a funeral home; from a dog tied to a chain to a homeless man sleeping at the foot of a skyscraper; and other moments of solitude and clear vision."What is beautiful," he writes in one poem, "is found accidentally and not sought after. What is beautiful is easily lost." Simic is the metaphysician of the ordinary, a poet who reminds us of the mysteries of our daily lives.
Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Charles Simic has done more than anyone since Czeslaw Milosz to introduce English-language readers to the greatest modern Slavic poets. In Oranges and Snow, Simic continues this work with his translations of one of today's finest Serbian poets, Milan Djordjevic. An encounter between two poets and two languages, this bilingual edition--the first selection of Djordjevic's work to appear in English--features Simic's translations and the Serbian originals on facing pages. Simic, a native Serbian speaker, has selected some forty-five of Djordjevic's best poems and provides an introduction in which he discusses the poet's work, as well as the challenges of translation. Djordjevic, who was born in Belgrade in 1954, is a poet who gives equal weight to imagination and reality. This book ranges across his entire career to date. His earliest poems can deal with something as commonplace as a bulb of garlic, a potato, or an overcoat fallen on the floor. Later poems, often dreamlike and surreal, recount his travels in Germany, France, and England. His recent poems are more autobiographical and realistic and reflect a personal tragedy. Confined to his house after being hit and nearly killed by a car while crossing a Belgrade street in 2007, the poet writes of his humble surroundings, the cats that come to his door, the birds he sees through his window, and the copies of one of his own books that he once burnt to keep warm.Whatever their subject, Djordjevic's poems are beautiful, original, and always lyrical.
Simic was born in Belgrade in 1938 and his childhood was marked by war. By 1954 he was in Chicago. By 1959 he was a published poet, and after a degree from New York U. he published the first of over 60 books. In time Simic (literature, U. of New Hampshire) the refugee was Simic the US Poet Laureate. His intuitive understanding of the bizarre has remained with him throughout, and this collection of writings reveals some of the reasons why this unique trait has helped to make him one of the great twentieth and twenty-first century poets. He explains attraction, reflection, rule-making, devotion, utopianism, marginalization and the heart of the poet along with the moments in his life that shaped his mind and spirit, and critiques the works of authors ranging from Christopher Marlow to Emily Dickenson, Edwin Arlington Robinson, Robert Creeley, and Zbigniew Herbert. Annotation ©2009 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Here are sixty of Charles Simic's best known poems, collected to celebrate his appointment as the fifteenth Poet Laureate of the United States.
In his nineteenth collection, Charles Simic, the poet of the vaguely ominous sound and the disturbing, potentially significant image, moves closer to the dark heart of history and human behavior.
Whether he draws for inspiration on American blues, Serbian folktales, or Greek myths, Simic's words have a way of their own. Each of these forty-four poems is a powerful mixture of concrete images. Each records the reality and myth of the world around us-and in us. "Short, perfectly shaped, Simic's poems float past like feathers, turning one way, then another" (Village Voice).
Charles Simic has been widely celebrated for his brilliant poetic imagery; his social, political, and moral alertness; his uncanny ability to make the ordinary extraordinary; and not least, the sardonic humor all his own. Gathering much of his material from the seemingly mundane minutiae of contemporary American culture, Simic matches meditations on spiritual concerns and the weight of history with a nimble wit, shifting effortlessly to moments of clear vision and intense poetic revelation. Chosen as one of the New York Library's 25 Books to Remember for 2003, The Voice at 3:00 A. M. was also nominated for a National Book Award. The recipient of many prizes, Simic most recently received Canada's Griffin Prize. The poems in this collection--spanning two decades of his work--present a rich and varied survey of a remarkable lyrical journey.In the StreetBeauty, dark goddess,We met and partedAs though we parted not.Like two stopped watchesIn a dusty store window,One golden morning of time.
From the Library of Congress web site: Charles Simic was born in Yugoslavia on May 9, 1938. His childhood was complicated by the events of World War II. He moved to Paris with his mother when he was 15; a year later, they joined his father in New York and then moved to Oak Park, a suburb of Chicago, where he graduated from the same high school as Ernest Hemingway. Simic attended the University of Chicago, working nights in an office at the Chicago Sun Times, but was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1961 and served until 1963. He earned his bachelor's degree from New York University in 1966. From 1966 to 1974 he wrote and translated poetry, and he also worked as an editorial assistant for Aperture, a photography magazine. He married fashion designer Helen Dubin in 1964. They have two children. He has been a U.S. citizen for 36 years and lives in Strafford, N.H. Simic is the author of 18 books of poetry. He is also an essayist, translator, editor and professor emeritus of creative writing and literature at the University of New Hampshire, where he has taught for 34 years. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1990 for his book of prose poems The World Doesn't End (1989). His 1996 collection, Walking the Black Cat, was a finalist for the National Book Award for Poetry. In 2005 he won the Griffin Prize for Selected Poems: 1963-2003. Simic will publish a new book of poetry, That Little Something, in February 2008. His most recent poetry volume is My Noiseless Entourage (2005). Simic held a MacArthur Fellowship from 1984-1989, and has also held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. He has received the Edgar Allan Poe Award, the PEN Translation Prize and awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Institute of Arts and Letters. He was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2000. On August 2, 2007, the same day he was appointed Poet Laureate, Simic received the $100,000 Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets for "outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry."
Hamlet's ghost wandering the halls of a Vegas motel, a street corner ventriloquist using passersby as dummies, and Jesus panhandling in a weed-infested Eden are just a few of the startling conceits Simic unleashes in this collection. "Few contemporary poets have been as influential-or inimitable-as Charles Simic" (New York Times Book Review).
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