Charles Simic Translates Radmila Lazic

Charles Simic Translates Radmila Lazic

The current New York Review of Books includes Radmila Lazic’s “Psalm of Despair.” She was born the same year I was. I would like to write a poem about despair myself. On a long, dark, cold night it caught my mood perfectly.

My reading of Serbian novels is now expanded by a poet I hadn’t known. I wonder what Zarko knows about her? Thinks about her work? Lazic’s A Wake for the Living, translated by Simic, was published by Graywolf Press in 2003. I once wrote Simic and asked if he would translate Zarko’s half of our Repetitions (available HERE). He sent back a nice note of praise for the text and lamented that he didn’t have time for the project. Fortunately, Ivana Djordjevic was available and produced a lucid translation.

What an unlikely, unexpected, and productive connection to Serbia Zarko has provided and provoked over what are now three decades.

About Scott Abbott

I received my Ph.D. in German Literature from Princeton University in 1979. Then I taught at Vanderbilt University, BYU, and Utah Valley State College. At Utah Valley University, I directed the Program in Integrated Studies for its initial 13 years and was also Chair of the Department of Humanities and Philosophy for three years. My publications include a book on Freemasonry and the German Novel, two co-authored books with Zarko Radakovic (REPETITIONS and VAMPIRES & A REASONABLE DICTIONARY, published in Serbo-Croatian in Belgrade and in English with Punctum Books), a book with Sam Rushforth (WILD RIDES AND WILDFLOWERS, Torrey House Press), a "fraternal meditation" called IMMORTAL FOR QUITE SOME TIME (University of Utah Press), and translations of three books by Austrian author Peter Handke, of an exhibition catalogue called "The German Army and Genocide," and, with Dan Fairbanks, of Gregor Mendel's important paper on hybridity in peas. More famously, my children are in the process of creating good lives for themselves: as a model and dance/yoga studio manager, as a teacher of Chinese language, as an ecologist and science writer, as a jazz musician, as a parole officer, as a contractor, as a seasonal worker (Alaska and Park City, Utah), and as parents. I share my life with UVU historian Lyn Bennett, with whom I have written a cultural history of barbed wire -- THE PERFECT FENCE (Texas A&M University Press). Some publications at
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3 Responses to Charles Simic Translates Radmila Lazic

  1. flowerville says:

    thanks for always mentioning all those interesting writers.
    warm and cold and despair, it reminded me of good old wv humboldt in the sense that enlightenment should not just be light, cold light, but also have some warmth. so at least you had a fire.
    what do you think about mesa selimovic? i have just discovered his writing and am intrigued, but also indecisive.


    • Scott Abbott says:

      The cold light of reason and Humboldt’s warm heart. Nice! Wonder if that warmth came, in part, from knowing all those languages and thus peoples?
      I first encountered Selimovic on your blog, looked him up on the internet, and thought I’d like to read him. Haven’t done so yet.


  2. flowerville says:

    i’ve got it from this wonderful book (da geht einem doch gleich das herz auf):
    trabant, apeliotes. p15 in case the link doesn’t work.


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