|Saul Steinberg, Charles Simic, 1993|
I was asked that once by a clever professor of philosophy. It was late at night and we were drinking a lot of wine, so I just said the first thing that came into my mind: "They want to know about things that cannot be put into words."
--Charles Simic, The Monster Loves His Labyrinth
Suki, knows I am smitten with Charles Simic, and was kind enough to surprise me with a copy of his The Monster Loves His Labyrinth: Notebooks, a collection of his intelligent, sexy notebook entries, gathered over decades. Since I, too, keep a notebook handy to jot special words and ideas, I find his little epigrams, observations and vignettes fascinating.
Browsing through Simic's random notes is like crawling inside his head and taking a peek at his gathered mental ephemera; charming tidbits like "snow arriving this morning at my door like a mail-order bride" or "a poem like a holy icon, painted in secret hope that some day a god may come to inhabit it miraculously".
I am a born collector, so keeping an assortment of chunky spiral notebooks (one at my desk, one one my bedside table for late night visits from my muse, and one in my handbag) of odd words and quirky phrases, comes second nature to me. In the process of writing poetry, I refer to them often, like a favorite cookbook.
In case you happen to be unfamiliar with my crush, Charles Simic born in Yugoslavia in 1938, Professor Emeritus of Creative Writing at the University of NH, won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1990 and was a finalist for the National Book Award for Poetry in 1996. In 2007 he was appointed Poet Laureate and received the $100,000 Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets.