Charles Simic reads mostly from Dismantling the Silence (G. Braziller, 1971) and from his notebook- a selected of new and unpublished poems. Interesting to note the changes between poems read and later published versions.

Introducer

00:00:05.08

A short quotation which appears in the ‘Contributors' Note’s to Paul Carroll's anthology The Young American Poets.  Quote: “As far back as I can remember there was a kind of dumbness within me, a need that sought expression.  How it eventually materialized in the act of writing a poem belongs to a biography which I have only been able to recount in a few successful poems.  As for the finished product, the poem, my need requires it to be of, as Whitman said, the thoughts of all men in all ages and lands, and further, if they are not yours as much as mine, they are nothing, or next to nothing.  On a subjective level, I write to give being to that vibration which is my life, and to survive in a hard time”.  Charles Simic.

 

Charles Simic

00:00:57.84

Thank you.  Is this mic also for the audience or just for the tape?  Oh it is, okay.  I'll be reading mostly from my third book, including also some more recent poems.  And I'll start off with a very recent poem which is called "Breasts."

 

Annotation

00:02:07.37

Reads "Breasts"

 

Charles Simic

00:05:05.78

This is not from the book.  A series of poems really dealing with inanimate objects.  And the first poem in the series is called "Table."

 

Annotation

00:05:27.56

Reads "Table"

 

Annotation

00:06:55.20

Reads "Stone"

 

Charles Simic

00:08:14.90

There's a poem about a fork, and also a poem about a spoon and knife, and I'll read "The Fork."

 

Annotation

00:08:26.88

Reads "The Fork"

 

Annotation

00:09:12.37

Reads "My Shoes"

 

Charles Simic

00:10:42.11

The last one of these has not been included in the book.  I only discovered it about a year ago, in a notebook, but it was written around the same time, and I've sort of been fooling around with it.  It's called "Brooms."  There's five parts.  I'll just make a little pause within each part.

 

Annotation

00:11:13.03

Reads "Brooms" - Part I

 

Annotation

00:11:43.69

Reads "Brooms" - Part II

 

Annotation

00:12:41.89

Reads "Brooms" - Part III

 

Annotation

00:13:24.19

Reads "Brooms" - Part IV

 

Annotation

00:14:06.93

Reads "Brooms" - Part V

 

Charles Simic

00:14:55.23

I'll read you the last poem of, in the book of this particular series, which really has nothing to do with objects, but it's a poem in which I imagine what would happen if someone really penetrated one of these inanimate objects, like his pores, kind of a Christopher Columbus of entering an ashtray or something.  It's called "Explorers."

 

Annotation

00:15:33.45

Reads "Explorers"

 

Charles Simic

00:17:13.95

Let's see. This is, this is called "The Inner Man."

 

Annotation

00:17:40.13

Reads "The Inner Man"

 

Charles Simic

00:19:06.25

This poem, this next poem is called "The Animals."  I wrote it in New York City, after living in New York City for about five-six years, and lamenting the pastoral quality of my first book, and my inability to return to that kind of nature poetry.  I realized that I hadn't seen a tree or an animal in about three or four years, and yet at the same time writing, you know, occasionally about some cows, or, you know, and I was saying, what are these animals, you know, these shadowy animals.  Anyway, here's the poem.  "The Animals."

 

Annotation

00:19:46.24

Reads "The Animals"

 

Charles Simic

00:21:07.07

Let's see.  Sort of change to some different kinds of poems.  Here's a poem about Chicago.  Going back to Chicago.  And, to see my mother.  And...it's all there anyway.  Hopefully.  There's seven parts.

 

Annotation

00:22:03.24

Reads "Chicago" - Part I

 

Annotation

00:22:43.52

Reads "Chicago" - Part II

 

Annotation

00:23:17.34

Reads "Chicago" - Part III

 

Annotation

00:23:57.52

Reads "Chicago" - Part IV

 

Annotation

00:24:35.68

Reads "Chicago" - Part V

 

Annotation

00:25:06.70

Reads "Chicago" - Part VI

 

Annotation

00:25:33.53

Reads "Chicago" - Part VII

 

Charles Simic

00:26:39.54

Let's see.  I can't find it.  Maybe it's not written yet.  Oh here it is, yeah.

 

Annotation

00:27:01.18

Reads "Tapestry"

 

Charles Simic

00:28:15.96

This is a very different kind of poem.  The material for the the poem is, are, cliches, working with with awful cliches, things which were totally beaten to death and, you know, can't be used anymore.  Or proverbs, popular wisdom, and I'm twisting it all around, trying to reverse the kind of universe that is implied by, by let's say proverbs, if you get up in the morning and such and such a thing happens.  There is something very deterministic about it, and to reverse that, to give it a little fresh air, I'll turn it around.  And so I have a sequence of six poems which are entirely made up of these things, and they're called, the common title is "Concerning my Neighbors, the Hittites," and the...why the Hittites...why not?  [Laughs]  Hittites were simply something that I had not the slightest idea about and I sort of saw ourselves one day becoming the Hittites, you know, somebody sitting one day in some future century and, our century being, sort of the Hittites, you know. And so there are six poems, and, I guess that's about all to be said.

 

Annotation

00:29:58.40

Reads "Concerning My Neighbors, the Hittites" - Part I

 

Annotation

00:31:21.87

Reads "Concerning My Neighbors, the Hittites" - Part II

 

Annotation

00:32:09.57

Extended pause--about ten seconds--possibly this was originally the section break between Part II and Part III?  In published version (Selected Early Poems, 1999), there is no section break, only a stanza break here.

 

Annotation

00:33:20.60

Reads "Concerning My Neighbours, the Hittites" - either Part II continued (as in 1999 published version) or beginning of Part III

 

Annotation

00:33:20.74

Beginning of Part III in published version.  In this recording, Simic makes only an extremely brief pause between this section and the last--possibly no section break in poem as recorded here.

 

Annotation

00:34:20.75

Reads "Concerning My Neighbours, the Hittites" - Part IV [note--includes extra stanzas not included in the 1999 published version of the poem.]

 

Annotation

00:35:12.58

Reads "Concerning My Neighbours, the Hittites" - Part V

 

Charles Simic

00:36:14.53

Reads "Concerning My Neighbours, the Hittites" - Part VI [Note: Simic makes no break or pause between Part V and this final stanza, which constitutes Part VI in the 1999 published version.  Perhaps version as recorded did not contain a section-break here.]

 

Charles Simic

00:36:23.51

Do you we need a break?  Should we take a break?  Huh?  No, yes.  No.  Take a break.  Yeah, let's take a ten-minute break.   [Applause]

 

Annotation

00:36:38.17

Recording ends.

Charles Simic

00:00:00.00

I was asking Ksemi Rothers  about, you know, who are my great grand-uncles, and great-grandfathers and so on, and I found out that they all were killed or disappeared in some completely forgotten nineteenth-century Balkan wars which no one knows any more the cause or the reason or why they were started.  And so this poem kind of happened out of that.  It's called "Marching."

Annotation

00:00:47.39

 

Reads "Marching"

Charles Simic

00:03:28.45

 

This is a kind of a, you could say that it's sort of an elegy for my father, in seven parts.

Annotation

00:03:47.21

 

Reads ["Elegy for my father"]

Charles Simic

00:07:44.33

 

This is a love poem.  I have a series of love poems in the new book but this is one of them.  And I might use the title of this poem as the title of the new book.  The title is "Return to a place lit by a glass of milk."

 

Annotation

00:08:8.14

 

Reads "Return to a place lit by a glass of milk"

Charles Simic

00:09:20.92

 

I want to read a couple more poems now.  "Dismantling the Silence."

Annotation

00:09:54.30

 

Reads "Dismantling the Silence."

Charles Simic

00:11:17.80

 

The last poem in this book is called "Errata" for the good reason that after I finished the book I felt again, you know, a sense of frustration.  I didn't say everything.  And so each of the lines in this particular poem are really, refer to actual lines in the book.  I'm kind of correcting myself.  "Errata."

Annotation

00:11:53.17

 

Reads "Errata."

Charles Simic

00:13:20.93

 

Thank you.  [Applause]

Unknown

00:13:35.88

 

The next reading will be on January 14th, Dorothy Livesay will read that night.

Annotation

00:13:44.25

Recording ends.

Charles Simic at SGWU, 1971
(Tape 1 of 2)

Tape
Catalog numberI006-11-115.1
Duration36:39:00
Sound qualityVery good
Reading
SpeakersCharles Simic, introducer, unknown
VenueMixed Lounge of the Hall Building
DateNovember 19, 1971, 9:00pm

Charles Simic at SGWU, 1971
(Tape 2 of 2)

Tape
Catalog numberI006-11-115.2
Duration13:46:00
Sound qualityVery good
Reading
SpeakersCharles Simic
VenueMixed Lounge of the Hall Building
DateNovember 19, 1971, 9:00pm
Timestamps

00:00- Unknown introducer introduces Charles Simic.

00:57- Charles Simic introduces reading, and “Breasts”.

02:07- Reads “Breasts”.

05:05- Introduces “Table”.

05:27- Reads “Table”.

06:55- Reads “Stone”.

08:14- Introduces “The Fork”.

08:26- Reads “The Fork”.

09:12- Reads “My Shoes”. 

10:42- Introduces “Brooms”, parts I-V.

11:13- Reads “Brooms” Part I.

11:43- Reads “Brooms” Part II.

12:41- Reads “Brooms” Part III.

13:24- Reads “Brooms” Part IV.

14:06- Reads “Brooms” Part V.

14:55- Introduces “Explorers” 

15:33- Reads “Explorers”.

17:13- Reads “The Inner Man”.

19:06- Introduces “The Animals”.

19:46- Reads “The Animals”.

21:07- Introduces “Chicago”, parts I-VII.

22:03- Reads “Chicago” Part I.

22:43- Reads “Chicago” Part II.

23:17- Reads “Chicago” Part III.

23:57- Reads “Chicago” Part IV.

24:35- Reads “Chicago” Part V.

25:06- Reads “Chicago” Part VI.

25:33- Reads “Chicago” Part VII.

27:01- Reads “Tapestry”.

28:15- Introduces “Concerning My Neighbors, the Hittites”, Parts I-VI.

29:58- Reads “Concerning My Neighbors, the Hittites” Part I.

31:21- Reads “Concerning My Neighbors, the Hittites” Part II.

33:20- Reading interrupted by pause, either Part II is continued or part III begins.

34:20- Reads “Concerning my Neighbors, the Hittites” Part IV.

35:12- Reads “Concerning my Neighbors, the Hittites” Part V.

36:14- Reads “Concerning my Neighbors, the Hittites” Part VI.

36:39- END OF RECORDING

Timestamps

00:00- Introduces “Marching”.

00:48- Reads “Marching”.

03:39- Introduces “Elegy for my father”

03:48- Reads “Elegy for my father”.

07:45- Introduces “Return to a place lit by a glass of milk”.

08:08- Reads “Return to a place lit by a glass of milk”.

09:55- Reads “Dismantling the Silence”.

11:18- Introduces “Errata”.

11:54- Reads “Errata”.

13:36- Unknown speaker announces next reading

13:45- END OF RECORDING.

References

Hart, Henry. "Simic, Charles". The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature. Jay Parini (ed).  Oxford University Press 2004. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press.  Concordia University Library, Montreal. November 11, 2009. <http://0-www.oxfordreference.com.mercury.concordia.ca/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t197.e0262>.

 

Simic, Charles. Return to a place lit by a glass of milk. New York: Brazillier, 1974.

 

"General: Poetry Reading”. The Gazette. November 19, 1971. <http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=H0EjAAAAIBAJ&sjid=36EFAAAAIBAJ&pg=6219,3330526&dq=sir+george+williams+poetry&hl=en>.

 

"Simic, Charles". The Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature. Margaret Drabble and Jenny Stringer (eds). Oxford University Press, 2007. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press.  Concordia University Library, Montreal. November 11, 2009.<http://0-www.oxfordreference.com.mercury.concordia.ca/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t54.e5642>.

 

“Simic, Charles, 1938-”. Literature Online Biography. Cambridge, UK: Chadwyck-Healey, 2005. Concordia University Library, Montreal. < http://0-gateway.proquest.com.mercury.concordia.ca/openurl?ctx_ver=Z39.88-2003&xri:pqil:res

_ver=0.2&res_id=xri:lion-us&rft_id=xri:lion:ft:ref:BIO001947:0>.

 

“Simic, Charles, 1938-”. Literature Online Bibliography. Cambridge, UK: Proquest LLC, 2008. Concordia University Library, Montreal. December 7, 2009. <http://0-gateway.proquest.com.mercury.concordia.ca/openurl?ctx_ver=

Z39.88-2003&xri:pqil:res_ver=0.2&res_id=xri:lion-us&rft_id=xri:lion:ft:ref:BIBLIOG001947:0>.

 

"Simic, Charles". The Oxford Companion to American Literature. James D. Hart (ed), Phillip W.   Leininge (rev). Oxford University Press 1995. Oxford Reference Online. Concordia University Library, Montreal. November 11,  2009 <http://0-www.oxfordreference.com.mercury.concordia.ca/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t123.e4386>.

 

"Simic, Charles”. The Oxford Companion to English Literature. Dinah Birch (ed). Oxford University Press Inc. Oxford Reference Online. Concordia University Library, Montreal. November 11,  2009. <http://0-www.oxfordreference.com.

mercury.concordia.ca/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t113.e6953>.

 

Transcription by: Rachel Kyne

Print Catalogue, “Introduction”, Research and Edits by: Celyn Harding-Jones


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