Charles Simic

  • Reading 9-11-01

    IN THE DAYS immediately following the terrorist attacks of September 11, titles that promised answers in the face of the disaster threatened to keep retired General Electric CEO Jack Welch's straight-talking memoir out of the top slot on best-seller lists. Studies of the Taliban movement, Osama bin Laden's terrorist organization Al-Qaeda, and the ill-fated twin towers themselves predictably climbed the charts, but according to the New York Times, king of the hill was Nostradamus: At the online bookshop Amazon.com, three editions of the prophesies of the sixteenth-century mystic, into whose

  • EVA HESSE: UNTITLED, ca. 1961

    THERE ARE WORKS OF ART that can be confidently described as minor and of marginal importance, perhaps even to the artists who made them, that for reasons far from clear, one can’t get enough of. In my own case, I have often been drawn to works, from Joseph Cornell to Agnes Martin, where the paucity or the almost complete absence of narrative, even of formal complexity, was an invitation to a kind of poetic reverie. I suppose this is like saying I prefer an empty room to the clutter of an overdesigned interior, that I prefer a space in which a single chair or an empty birdcage can do wonders for