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Beneath Cherry Blossoms - The Lilliput Review Blog

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Charles Simic, Poet Laureate, and Albert Huffstickler


Charles Simic, the newly named U.S. Poet Laureate, knows his way around the short poem.  A native of Belgrade, Yugoslavia, Simic emigrated with his family to the U.S. while in his teens.   Growing up in Europe during WWII, war and its consequences, as well as language, are never far from his concerns.  From his collection Jackstraws:


Mother Tongue

That's the one the butcher

Wraps in a newspaper

And throws on the rusty scale

Before you take it home


Where a black cat will leap

Off the cold stove

Licking its whiskers

At the sound of her name


In a previous posting, I commented on the lack of recent war poems coming into Lilliput considering that the Iraq War has now gone on longer than WWII.  Simic, of course, remembers  (from Hotel Insomnia):



The trembling finger of a woman

Goes down the list of casualties

On the evening of the first snow.


The house is cold and the list is long.


All our names are included.


One of the hallmarks of Simic's poetry is a subtle weaving of the surreal in the real; in the following example from Return to a Place Lit by a Glass of Milk, it leads to transcendence:



Green Buddhas

On the fruit stand.

We eat the smile

And spit out the teeth.


Returning to our twice weekly or so tour of past issues of Lilliput Review, we have the following little numbers by the inimitable Albert Huffstickler from issue #111 (July 2000):


And still the light,

always the light.

Mornings are hardest,

that light so like

that other light,

that light we remember

when we don't remember

anything at all.



I have measured

my solitude on

the scale of

my being

and come up with

a formula

for converting

ashes into sunlight.


Posted by donw714 at 07:30 EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Wednesday, 15 August 2007 11:51 EDT

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