Carolyn Forché Remembers Charles Simic

Carolyn Forché in Literary Hub:

In memory we are standing in the kitchen of the Treman Cottage at Breadloaf. It is late afternoon in the summer of 1976 and I have brought my copies of Return to a Place Lit by a Glass of Milk and Dismantling the Silence for Charles Simic to sign. He is slouching a bit, leaning against the counter, and seems genuinely touched that I had carried the books, deeply penciled and dog-eared, all the way from home.

As he leafed through them, I blurted out that my family was from Czechoslovakia, and of course because it was a country that had been cobbled together in 1918, conjoining several parts of former Austro-Hungary, he wanted to know precisely where my ancestors had lived. I told him Slovakia, in Bardejov, in the eastern part of the country, in one of the oldest towns. “So you are Slovak!” he said, “and we are both peasants!” He laughed, then scrawled in his book with a fat pen: “Now that the Serbs and Slovaks have learned to read and write, look out world! Yours, Charlie.

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