«More Americans trust Trump than the media»

Charles Simic

Charles Simic | © Aaron Clamage / Valparaíso Ed.

Charles Simic | © Aaron Clamage / Valparaíso Ed.

Sevilla | February 2017

Although he lives in the United States since the age of 16, Charles Simic (born in Belgrad, 1938), never has broken totally his ties with Serbia, the home country of his family. This is obvious in many of his writings and translations, and also shows in Short days and long nights (2014), a collection of the articles published over the years in The New York Review of Books which has now been translated into Spanish as Días cortos y largas noches (Valparaíso, 2017). There we’ll find him talking about his passion about soccer and cooking, about US foreign policy and about some famous friends, like Mark Strand.

The writer, who has also recently published in Spain his book of poetry The Lunatic (2015) as El lunático (Vaso Roto), displays his proverbial kindness when asked to answer in written an interview by M’Sur. Maybe this is one of the reasons whey he’ll be the first figure to appear three times in this magazine (the first time was in 2011 and the second in 2015).

Might I know your opinion about poetry in internet? Do you think that good poetry will disappear or dissolve among the huge mass of bad poems that flood the Web?

There was always a huge amount of bad poetry. In United States almost every newspaper used to publish a poem every day throughout the 19th century and well into the 20th century and that didn’t drown good poetry. The bigger problem today is that bookstores and libraries where one went to find out what books worth reading are being published in this country are closing everywhere.

Is the Education system, not only in the States, one of the big problems of our times? Do you believe that the powerful are interested in keeping people ignorant or making them still more ignorant?

«A functioning democracy requires a well-informed citizens which we no longer have in US»

Of course. Leading the ignorant by the nose is easier than dealing with a people who who’ve been taught how to think critically. A functioning democracy requires a well-informed citizens which we no longer have in United States thanks to years of peddling lies on rightwing radio and internet and dumbing down of everything from newspapers and television to education in schools and universities.

I share your idea about the similarity between writing a good poem and cooking a good dish, but I’d like to know what you think about the star cooks and the gastronomy competitions in TV.

Those competitions always seemed fake to me. In addition, I prefer both to cook and to eat simple traditional dishes to elaborate culinary concoctions.

25 years have passed since Yugoslavia broke up and 10 years since Kosovo’s independence. Do the inhabitants of these regions live today better than during the old republic?

Some do and some don’t, I imagine. I haven’t lived there since 1953, so I’m not the person to ask.

Do you feel that the old wounds are more or less closed? Or must we accept what another Yugoslavian-born artist told me: in this region, wounds are only closed until they are reopened by the next war?

«Every ethnic group there remembers only the wrongs perpetrated against them»

The problem in the Balkans, as in many other places in the world, is that every ethnic group there remembers only the wrongs perpetrated against them and not the wrongs they themselves perpetrated on the others, so they are always at the mercy of opportunistic politicians prepared to reopen the old wounds and ride into office on a wave of nationalist frenzy.

Now everybody is dreaming about entering the European Union. ¿So eager to reunite after working hard to separate from each other by sword and fire?

A pipe dream. Slovenians and Croats are in the European Union already and the rest are deluding themselves if they believe that Europe wants them.

It seems to be unavoidable to ask about Trump. Do you feel personally affected when he speaks about immigrants or this isn’t any longer a concept you would apply to yourself?

Not as an immigrant, but as an American worried to what is happening to his country which used to welcome refugees like me and my parents.

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Alejandro Luque


Periodista y escritor (Cádiz, 1974). Vive en Sevilla.
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Charles Simic


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