October 2, 2014

Poetry Friday--Bookstock Literary Festival

Back in July I traveled to Vermont for the Bookstock Literary Festival held in Woodstock. I enjoyed myself thoroughly, and perhaps my favorite session was the appearance of Charles Simic. His was the only one in which I took notes. If you get the opportunity to hear him speak, take it! Here are some of my scribblings. I hope I have quoted him correctly:
"It's nice to be quoted, especially things you don't remember saying."

"Somebody annoyed me. Somebody asked me, Why do you have so many dogs in your poems? It's like asking Robert Frost, Mr. Frost, why do have so many trees?"

On love poems: "Everything you come up with is a cliché."

"I write short poems, but some of them are ridiculously short."

On the poem, "1938": "The first poem I wrote with the help of Google."


This video is Simic reading "1938" in 2010:



Here's a Simic love poem that is short, but not ridiculously so, and is definitely not a cliché:
Love Flea

He took a flea
From her armpit
To keep

And cherish
In a matchbox,
Even pricking his finger

From time to time
To feed it
Drops of blood.

From A Wedding in Hell [1994] and New and Selected Poems: 1962-2012 [2013].
I received an email notification from the Bookstock Literary Festival about two weeks ago. It had a link to videos of many of the poets and writers who read and spoke. I really appreciated receiving the link because there were some tough choices made about which workshops I would attend. You know how it goes, there are almost always two things you want to go to that are scheduled at the exact same time. One poet I missed was Martin Espada. I had seen him at the Dodge Festival a few years ago, and wanted to hear him again, so I'm happy the video is available.

[If you're in a book discussion group, you may have come across the novels of Roland Merullo such as Breakfast With Buddha or The Talk-Funny Girl. If so, I'd highly recommend watching his presentation; I was a fan before the festival--I'm an even bigger one now!]

For the Poetry Friday Round-Up, please visit Jama's Alphabet Soup where something wonderful is always cookin'!

17 comments:

  1. I don't imagine I'll ever be able to go to this festival, Diane, so thank you for the links. That is some love poem, & you're right, no cliche!

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    1. You never know, Linda. Someone who stayed in the same B & B had come from southern CA (not just for the festival, of course, she kinda just bumped into it).

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  2. Thanks, Diane. It looks like an amazing festival. That flea poem is creepy.

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    1. A little creepy...and a little fascinating at the same time.

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  3. Eek, I just can't romanticize a flea! BUT. It is surprising, and isn't that one of the most wonderful things about poetry?? Thank you for sharing!

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    1. And, it speaks to the over-the-top reactions some people have to love. Hopefully exaggerated for effect. ;-)

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  4. Oh my goodness, that's one unique love poem. Blood and fleas!

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    1. I wonder what his love thought of it?

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  5. Enjoyed the video and the quotes you shared. I haven't read enough Simic and must remedy that. Still pondering that flea . . .

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    1. It seems that when I had picked up one of his books in the past, I found it incomprehensible. However, the poems Simic read and talked about seemed so accessible to me, I wonder what it was I had picked up? He had a friendly demeanor in his presentation and that, alone, got me to take another look at his poems.

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  6. !938 as a "Google poem" sticks with me - so many varied images woven through this one.

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    1. Simic explained that he needed to do the research because he was only a baby when it all happened!

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  7. "Love Flea" seems to be more about a man's love for his dog than 2-legged partner...but not at first blush, obviously, which is why I like it!

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    1. Ah yes, except for the word "armpit." Do dogs have armpits?

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  8. What a great experience for you! And being in Vermont at this time of year must have been a beautiful sight (not that NH's not, mind you!) I confess, I am just warped enough to really like "Love Flea" and the first quote was definitely something I could appreciate as well!

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    1. Vermont is very lush in the summer--it's no wonder it's called the "Green Mountain" state.

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  9. Thanks for this! I love reading Simic's articles. It must have been really fun to hear him speak.

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