Confessions of a Poet Laureate

Charles Simic in the New York Review of Books:

Charles_simic_feature It never crossed my mind that I would become the poet laureate of the United States. The day I received the call from the Library of Congress, I was carrying a bag of groceries from the car to the house when the phone rang. They didn’t beat around the bush, but told me straight out that this was an honor and not a job they were offering to me. Of course, I was stunned, and without letting the groceries out of my hand, told them that I needed to think about it for a while and that I would call them back tomorrow. My first thought was, who needs this?

I’d heard about the endless reading tours of previous laureates, the elaborate projects they had devised and administered to make poetry more popular in United States, and none of it appealed to me very much. There’s a good reason why I have lived in a small village in New Hampshire for the last thirty-seven years. I like to hear roosters crow in the morning and dogs bark at night. “No way,” I told my wife. I was going to call them back and politely decline. But to my surprise, speaking to my children, I changed my mind. My son and daughter told me, separately, that if I refused this great honor I would come to regret my decision some day. I knew right away that they were right. I thought some more about it, but I kept going back to what they said. So, I accepted.

More here.