November 5, 2009

How much fun is a lot more fun

Jonathan Blum, Will It Be OK?, 2007

* From a 1998 interview of Charles Simic. excerpt:

J.M. Spalding: Could you talk about your early years and your life before you realized you were a poet?

Charles Simic: Germans and the Allies took turns dropping bombs on my head while I played with my collection of lead soldiers on the floor. I would go boom, boom, and then they would go boom, boom. Even after the war was over, I went on playing war. My imitation of a heavy machine gun was famous in my neighborhood in Belgrade.

Spalding: When did you first feel what Pound called "the impulse" to write?

Simic: When I noticed in high school that one of my friends was attracting the best-looking girls by writing them sappy love poems.
Spalding: Who are your influences?

Simic: The way Don Juan adored different kind of women I adored different kind of poets. I went to bed, so to speak, with ancient Chinese, old Romans, French Symbolists, and American Modernists individually and in groups. I was so promiscuous. I'd be lying if I pretended that I had just one great love.

Spalding: If you had not become a poet, what would you have done?

Simic: I would have liked to own a small restaurant and do my own cooking. The dishes I like are mostly Mediterranean, so you'd have been served squid, octopus, lamb sausages, eggplant, olives, anchovies.... I'd hire my poet friends to be waiters. Mark Strand would look great in a white jacket wiping with a napkin the dust on some wine bottle of noble vintage.
Spalding: Where do you find your inspiration these days?

Simic: Piece of cake. One needs inspiration to write when one is twenty. At the age of sixty, there's the mess of one's entire life and little time remaining to worry about.

* Strange Victory. Check it out.

* "A tremendous number of people in America work very hard at something that bores them. Even a rich man thinks he has to go down to the office everyday. Not because he likes it but because he can't think of anything else to do." --W. H. Auden


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