Orphan Factory: Essays and Memoirs

Orphan Factory: Essays and Memoirs

by Charles Simic
     
 

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Orphan Factory collects writing by Charles Simic, hailed as one of our finest contemporary poets. A native of Yugoslavia who emigrated to America in his teens, Simic believes that tragedy, comedy, and paradox are the commonplace experiences of an exile's life. In this delightful collection of journal entries, autobiographical essays, criticism, and prose

Overview

Orphan Factory collects writing by Charles Simic, hailed as one of our finest contemporary poets. A native of Yugoslavia who emigrated to America in his teens, Simic believes that tragedy, comedy, and paradox are the commonplace experiences of an exile's life. In this delightful collection of journal entries, autobiographical essays, criticism, and prose poetry, the poet reveals once again his fondness for odd juxtapositions that reveal hidden and unexpected connections.

 
In the title essay, Simic—whom critic Helen Vendler has called "the best political poet on the American scene"—reflects on his family's experiences of their war-torn homeland during World War II and the frightening familiarity of the recent tragic events in the region. The collection has many hilarious moments, such as Simic's memoir of his first days in New York City as a young poet and painter, impressions from his poet's notebook, and first lines from his unwritten books. The book also contains reflections on dreams, insomnia, and the night sky, and considers the work of poets Jane Kenyon and Ingeborg Bachmann, and of visual artists Saul Steinberg and Holly Wright.

 
Charles Simic's most recent poetry collections are Walking the Black Cat ( 1996), nominated for the National Book Award, and Hotel Insomnia. He has won numerous prizes, including the Pulitzer Prize, Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellowships, and a P.E.N. Translation Prize.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In Simic's writing, one always hears the accent, the indelible mark of his native Serbian tongue. The accent, which in his poetry conjures the surreal qualities of a heightened attention to language, lends to his prose a tone of curiosity and wondereven the occasional banal phrasing is suffused with the author's rich sense of humor at the micro-comedies of modern existence. A collection of Simic's nonfiction from the past few years, the book includes selections from a memoir in progress, musings on the immigrant experience, laments for the chronic warfare in the Balkans, epigrammatic prose-poems and critical essays on poetry, painting and photography. As with his poetry, the essays are at their best when fragmentary and spontaneous ideas and images combine to link his own experiences to those of his subjects. His observations are filled with wisdom and humor, and often irreverence, as when describing the poet Robert Lowell fondling two young groupies while discussing 19th-century French poetry: "Why wasn't I a great poet?" Simic quips. But, of course, he is and whether you're reading The World Doesn't End (for which he won a Pulitzer in 1990) or Hotel Insomnia, or Orphan Factory, he is a always a pleasure. (Oct.)
Library Journal
A noteworthy poet (e.g., Walking the Black Cat, LJ 11/1/96) who has won the Pulitzer Prize and both Guggenheim and MacArthur fellowships, Simic certainly shows in his writing the literal meaning of his essay "In Praise of Invective," whose subtitle (a quote from Cornelius Eady) reads, "the tongue we use when we don't want nuance to get in the way." That particular Simic tongue is alive and well, his vast store of maledictions liberally and winningly used in telling stories. But the Simic tongue is also full of nuance, as evidenced by his poetry, which offers much to ponder: Simic's early life in Belgrade, sneaking illegally into Austria with his mother in 1948, his feelings about Serbia and Croatia today, his beginning days in New York, sleepless nights, dreams, other poets, books he never completed. This one, thankfully, got finished. Read and feel encouraged.Robert Kelly, Fort Wayne Community Schs., Ind.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780472066636
Publisher:
University of Michigan Press
Publication date:
01/15/1998
Series:
Poets on Poetry Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
128
Sales rank:
1,180,040
Product dimensions:
5.38(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.40(d)

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