The Uncertain Certainty

Interviews, Essays, and Notes on Poetry
Charles Simic
Provides a critical and autobiographical context for viewing Simic's poetry


"In the beginning, always, a myth of origins of the poetic act. A longing to lower oneself one notch below language, to touch the bottom---that place of 'original action and desire,' to recover our mute existence, to re-create what is unspoken and enduring in words of the poem, and thus live twice as it were. Like our ancient ancestors who inhabited an animistic universe, the poet claims the interconnectedness and sentience of all things. This is what haunts: a world where magic is possible, where chance reigns, where metaphors have their supreme logic, where imagination is free and truthful."
---Charles Simic

The Uncertain Certainty provides a rich critical and autobiographical background against which we may view Charles Simic's major contributions to modern American poetry. Subjects covered in the collection range from Simic's recollections of his childhood in World War II Yugoslavia, his work as a translator, his interest in surrealism and other aspects of modernism, to the various issues that concern the poets of his generation.

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I. Interviews
With Crazy Horse     3
With Wayne Dodd and Stanley Plumly     11
With George Starbuck     27
With Rod Steier     46
With Students at Interlochen School     51
With Rick Jackson and Michael Panori     58
With Sherod Santos     68

II. Essays, Introductions, Notes
Negative Capability and Its Children     83
Vasko Popa     92
A Retired School Teacher in Galoshes     96
Peret     97
The Partial Explanation     101
Images and "Images"     105
A Clear and Open Place     108
Composition     110
Some Thoughts about the Line     113
Streets Strewn with Garbage     115
The Infinitely Forked Mother Tongue     118
Classic Ballroom Dances     120
Notes on Poetry and History     124

Product Details

  • 5.25 x 8.
  • 144pp.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 1986
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-06359-8

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  • $20.95 U.S.