Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Addictive Poetry

Book Reviewed: Sixty Poems, by Charles Simic

Despite my love for poetry as a whole, there are only a handful of poets I find addictive. I'm talking about poets whose work is so easy and wonderful to read that I can sit and read an entire book of theirs before I even realize I'm doing it. I feel this way about Guillaume Apollinaire, Philip Larkin, and Maurice Manning. Now, I'm adding Charles Simic to the list.

I already liked Simic a great deal after seeing him do a reading at Butler University a couple years ago. But when I picked up Sixty Poems on a whim at the library last week, I wasn't expecting to devour it so quickly or with such joy. Simic is a ridiculously good poet. His imagery is sharp and original, but even at its most absurd it never feels obtuse. His language is clear and descriptive. I had heard or read a few of the poems in this book before, and I still found myself enjoying every single one of these sixty pieces.

I've figured out what makes certain poets' books addictive. It's the point of view. All of the poets I find the most readable are the ones who have a very distinctive point of view. It makes their books flow from one poem to another, following the patterns of a novel rather than a collection. Simic's background experiences as a child of World War II, as an immigrant, and as a city dweller connect in the singular voice in his work. Once I started the book, I had to keep going in order to get further inside his authorial headspace. With Simic, that is a very fun place to be.

This is a great collection of poetry, and I think I'm going to start recommending Simic to non-poetry readers. He's very easy to get into, but his work pays back in dividends once you get to know it.

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