The Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Charles Simic’

“Snow Is a Hat Worn By Mountains”

February 13, 2014 | by

snow

Some might suggest that for a literary blog to feature three snow-related posts in a day is excessive. Well, tough. The weather has always been a great common denominator. And to our credit, we’ve refrained from calling this “Winter Storm Pax” or “the snowpocalypse.” We have standards.

Here, then, are seven poems from our archives fit for a snowy night. I won’t claim they’ll warm or comfort you—they’re poems, not pap—but they’re terrific reads, and they will be of some help. Next time you share an elevator with a distant colleague, you’ll use the weather as a conversational crutch, as one does; but instead of saying, “Man, it’s cold out!” you’ll say, “Snow is a hat worn by mountains.” You’ll make a lasting impression.

Note, too, that the majority of these poems were published in the spring or summer: a reminder that what’s unendurable now will be desirable in a few months’ time.

Debora Greger, “To the Snow” (from The Paris Review No. 154, Spring 2000)

Snow, let go. It’s late,
You are cornmush. You are cold.
Let me cover you with this white sheet.
No one will know.

Agha Shahid Ali, “Snow on the Desert” (from No. 107, Summer 1988)

the sliding doors of the fog were opened,
and the snow, which had fallen all night, now
sun-dazzled, blinded us, the earth whitened

out, as if by cocaine, the desert’s plants,
its mineral-hard colors extinguished,
wine frozen in the veins of the cactus.

Read More »

2 COMMENTS

Contra Dancing with Pierre Reverdy

September 11, 2013 | by

Signature_Pierre_Reverdylarge

“I’d have to go up or it’s better if you come down and, arm in arm, let’s go somewhere else where no one looks at us,” says Pierre Reverdy in his poem “Further Away Than There.” So many of Reverdy’s tiny geometric poems are like this: refreshingly, dizzyingly cubist. You think you’re reading a poem but are being manipulated to move around it in a way that’s cinematic.

Reverdy’s is the latest in The New York Review of Books’s new poetry-in-translation series. The tiny ultramarine-and-turquoise book is packed with embittered, contemplative, spooky, lyrical, and emotionally honest poems. Reverdy dares to move a sentence into strange and misleading territory but it seldom makes no sense. The fourteen translators, who include Rosanna Warren and John Ashbery, are as disparate in tone, syntax, and translation style as you can get. It’s hats off to Reverdy, then, for producing work so exacting that it reads consistently and lucidly in English.

At the center of the French avant-garde, Reverdy founded Nord-Sud in 1917 with Apollinaire and Max Jacob, and was close friends with the cubist painters Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and Juan Gris. It’s because of these friendships that Reverdy became associated with literary cubism. (In March 1917, Juan Gris launched his treatise on cubism, “Sur le Cubisme,” in Nord-Sud.) Though Reverdy’s Nord-Sud lasted only a year, it embodied and advanced the avant-garde movements, especially surrealism and dadaism, that coalesced and overlapped in wartime Paris.

I skimmed the book from the back forward first, to see where Reverdy ended up. The varied forms (prose poems, fractured lines, squares, paragraphs) force you to constantly reassess, but the diction seemed deliberately chosen. Then I looked at Juan Gris’s paintings online. In Fruit Dish, Pipe and Newspaper, the diagonals cut up, down, and across the canvas. Turning back to the Reverdy, I closed in on a few poems, and found a parallel technique in a sentence in Always Alone: “In the street when our arms threw up a bridge, no one looked up and the houses tilted.” What an extraordinary scene—the pull between love and its boundaries, their private public space, houses tilting presumably around the lovers. Read More »

1 COMMENT

Introducing Our Fall Issue!

September 3, 2013 | by

206

Since 1953, a central mission of The Paris Review has been the discovery of new voices. Why? It’s not just a matter of wanting to lead the pack or provide publishers with fresh blood. In “The Poet” Emerson wrote, “the experience of each new age requires a new confession.” That’s our idea, too.

Even by TPR standards, our Fall issue is full of new confessions. Readers will remember Ottessa Moshfegh, the winner of this year’s Plimpton Prize. We think our other fiction contributors—and most of our poets—will be new to you. They certainly caught us off guard.

We also have new kinds of work from writers you do know—a photography portfolio curated by Lydia Davis, and a project more than twenty years in the works: Jonathan Franzen’s translation of Karl Kraus, including some of the most passionate footnotes we’ve encountered since Pale Fire.

Find an interview with groundbreaking writer Ursula K. Le Guin:

A lot of twentieth-century— and twenty-first-century—American readers think that that’s all they want. They want nonfiction. They’ll say, I don’t read fiction because it isn’t real. This is incredibly naive. Fiction is something that only human beings do, and only in certain circumstances. We don’t know exactly for what purposes. But one of the things it does is lead you to recognize what you did not know before.

The Art of Nonfiction with Emmanuel Carrère:

Your first impulse is to be terribly embarrassed by the other’s suffering, and you don’t know what to do, and then there’s the moment when you stop asking yourself questions and you just do what you have to do.

All this plus new poems by former Paris Review editors Dan Chiasson, Charles Simic, and Frederick Seidel.

Subscribe now!

 

4 COMMENTS

Staff Picks: ‘The Duel,’ An Annotated ‘Peter Pan’

November 4, 2011 | by

“I must find an explanation and a justification for my ridiculous life in the theories of others, in literary types ... Last night, for instance, I comforted myself by thinking repeatedly: Oh, how right Tolstoy was, how unmercifully right! And this made me feel better.” Does everybody else know that Chekhov wrote a novel? I had no idea—until I came across Margarita Shalina’s new translation of The Duel, all about a “superfluous” man who has moved with his mistress to the Caucasus to start a new life, which, you can guess how well that goes ... —Lorin Stein

I’ve always been fascinated by Peter Pan, from the Mary Martin musical to the frankly somewhat twisted details of Barrie’s biography (says Anthony Lane: “the actual making of love lay outside his interests, or beyond his grasp”). What a pleasure, then, to happen upon The Annotated Peter Pan, released last month. Here I learned that Barrie saw a “touch of the feminine in Hook, as in all the greatest pirates”; that Tinkerbell, far from a fetching blond, was once “a fairy-tinker, a creature who mended pots and pans”; and that Barrie was obliged to add a warning to the play, cautioning children against leaping out of their windows thinking “lovely wonderful thoughts,” after hearing that some children had in fact given it a try. —Deirdre Foley-Mendelssohn

I’ve been reading translations of the Turkish poets Cevdet Anday and Yahya Kemal, the Pakistani Faiz Ahmed, and the Polish poet Tadeusz Rozewicz, all published on the blog of that exemplary little journal, Little Star. The first two print issues were a delight, and I’m told a third issue is due any day. —Robyn Creswell

If you are trying to build your own art collection, but your pockets are a bit too shallow for the Chelsea gallery scene, be sure to check out the collage show at The Ugly Art Room in Williamsburg, curated by skilled collagist Charles Wilkin. —Charlotte Strick

Charles Simic’s Dime-Store Alchemy: The Art of Joseph Cornell illustrates the patchwork beauty of Cornell’s artwork and, like his famous shadow boxes, the book is structured using surreal yet precise vignettes. There’s nothing quite as exciting as reading a poet’s prose.  —Jessica Calderon

3 COMMENTS