Charles Simic has been Poet Laureate of the United States. His most recent books are The Lunatic, a volume of poetry, and The Life of Images, a book of his selected prose.
 (August 2016)

IN THE REVIEW

The Consolations of Strangeness

The After Party

by Jana Prikryl
Reading some of Jana Prikryl’s poems is like walking into a movie theater in the middle of a film one knows nothing about, trying to figure out what is happening on the screen, irked at first that the answer is not forthcoming, and gradually growing more and more entranced by the mystery of every face and every action, detached as they are from any context.

You Laugh Uncontrollably

Bohumil Hrabal at the Canadian embassy in Prague, summer 1990

Mr. Kafka and Other Tales from the Time of the Cult

by Bohumil Hrabal, translated from the Czech by Paul Wilson

Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age

by Bohumil Hrabal, translated from the Czech by Michael Henry Heim, with an introduction by Adam Thirlwell
Bohumil Hrabal’s complete works in Czech add up to nineteen volumes, of which at least twenty books have been translated into English, an achievement not many foreign fiction writers of the recent past can claim. I first heard his name when I saw Closely Watched Trains, a film based on …

Bernie & Hillary & the Future

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton at the Democratic presidential debate, Las Vegas, October 2015
This was, indeed, a very different presidential debate from the ones Republicans had in August and September. Sixteen candidates then used their allotted time trying to outdo each other in scaring Americans out of their pants by warning them about enemies everywhere, from illegal immigrants pouring across our borders, selling …

Description

It was like a teetering house of cards, A contortionist strumming a ukulele, A gorilla raging in someone’s attic, A car graveyard frantic to get back On the interstate highway in a tornado, Tolstoy’s beard in his mad old age, General Custer’s stuffed horse…

NYR DAILY

Dizzy in the Daylight

In Jim Marshall’s Jazz Festival, we see dozens of the greats, musicians who made their names playing radically different kinds of music, performing or being caught by the camera schmoozing backstage between sets and enjoying each other’s company. Marshall had no idea while snapping these pictures, of course, that he was compiling a record of a vanished world, an America even more remote from us today than the one of the rock musicians and their fans that he covered in later years.

Expendable America

Harlan County, Cumberland, Kentucky, 2015

All of us who are familiar with rural areas and former industrial towns in this country know the impoverishment and hopelessness of many men and women who live there. Understandably, they are angry. These unfortunates, who’ve been cheated and swindled by bosses, mortgage banks, and both political parties, have put all their hopes in a billionaire who has a long record of not paying taxes, cheating his workers and contractors out of their pay, and seemingly using his own “charitable” foundation as a slush fund. They voted for a buffoon who doesn’t care whether they live or die.

Syria with One Eye

Aleppo, Syria, October 5, 2016

Charles Simic interviews the Syrian poet Rasha Omran who, since the beginning of Syria’s civilian uprising in 2011, has been a fearless critic of the Bashar al-Assad regime and the failure of Arab intellectuals to denounce its crimes. She lives in exile in Egypt, where she has continually spoken out against the war and in support of democratic reform.

The Meaning of New Hampshire

A primary voter in Manchester, New Hampshire, February 9, 2016

Seeing Trump signs in impoverished towns here that never fully recovered after the mills closed forty years ago makes one sad. These are clearly stunningly uninformed people, ignorant even of their own family histories.

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