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INTERVIEW: Charles Simic, American poet of Serbian origin

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BELGRADE - If you are planning to attend this evening’s literary event put on by Charles Simic, you should come early as the venue is bound to fill up in no time. When Charles Simic, a great US poet of Serbian origin, was last in Serbia for the same occasion, the DKC hall was cram packed. This is rare sight nowadays in the cultural life of Belgrade and Serbia, as poetry readings are typically frequented by the same dozen admirers.

The popularity of Charles Simic is no latest fashion but rather a recognition to one of the most established authors of the highly-developed American poetry scene.


He has been the laureate of virtually every US literary award, from the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry to a Frost Medal. The latter award came only last month.
The cause of Simic’s visit to Belgrade is the release of his book "Iscekujuci presudu" (Arhipelag, 2011), which encloses an extensive selection of his work, complete with a number of entirely new poems.

However, Simic did not need a special occasion to come to Belgrade, the city where he grew up in and which has heavily influenced his themes when writing poetry. Speaking for Blic, Simic talks about his understanding of poetry, America and rebellion.

At your previous literary event in 2006 it was so crowded that it resembled a rock concert with all the energy there at the venue. Is this a common thing in the US, as it is hardly so here in Serbia?
- “It is, especially in smaller towns. If you visit universities and colleges in far off places in Nebraska, Oklahoma, there is nothing else to be seen there, and it is usually a big event for the locals. You can fill up the room and have 300 to 400 visitors. People there are used to coming to literary events and they know there will be something interesting there to see and hear. In major cities, however, the competition is more fierce and somewhere around 150 people turn up in New York, but it also depends where the reading takes place.”

On a similar not, some believe there is a crisis of poetry.

- “I am told the same thing. The same people say that back in the day everyone read poetry, but it is nonsense, because that was never the case. I think poetry was more present in schools and children were used to be made to learn poetry by heart. For me it is a ridiculous thing to make kids learn it by heart.”

You have mentioned New York, which is an almost mythical place for contemporary poets.

- “In America they don’t like New York. The USA is a country of small towns and deserts, and New York City itself has produced very few major poets, except for, of course, Walt Whitman.”

Is there a fear of poetry in America, especially in conservative circles?

- “Well, that is exactly what puritans are like. They not only hate poetry, they hate every other manifestation of art. The South is extremely religious and the Church is has a strong influence there. Yes, that does exist, but on the other hand, you have people who read everything, including poetry.”

Does this stance mean you are closer to rock and roll rebellion than to conventional art?

- “I believe that is true. This is why we have an audience because when those young people, who grew up with the rock and roll rebellion, recognise it in poetry, they become our audience. This is when we return to the poets of the beat generation, who got young people to read poetry. I belong to an older generation, but I remember a time in the 1960s when every young man who wanted to be cool had a book by Ginsberg or Ferlinghetti hanging out from their pockets. That was a sort of uniform, and that is why poets were no longer considered to be weird folks but rather had become part of our mainstream lives. The sixties did a great deal for poetry.”

Source: Blic News

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 May 2011 08:27

2011 Ellis Island Medal of Honor Recipients

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Three Serbs are recipients of 2011 Ellis Island Medal of Honor: Dr.Radmila Milentijevic and Philip and Madlena Zepter.

The Ellis Island Medal of Honor was founded by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO) and intended to pay homage to the immigrant experience. The medals honor the contribution made to America by immigrants and the legacy they left behind in the successes of their children and grand-children. Many Medalists take pride in documenting their family's entry to the country via Ellis Island. The medals are awarded to native-born and naturalized U.S. citizens from various ethnic backgrounds. The honorees are said to "exemplify outstanding qualities in both their personal and professional lives, while continuing to preserve the richness of their particular heritage."

The medals were established at the time of NECO's founding in 1986. A ceremony is held each May on Ellis Island. All branches of the United States Armed Forces traditionally participate. Both the United States House of Representatives and United States Senate have officially recognized the Ellis Island Medals of Honor. Each year’s recipients are read into the Congressional Record.

The Great Hall where immigrants were once processed hosts the gala dinner which follows the ceremony. Approximately 100 Medalists are honored each year. Past Medalists include six Presidents, as well as Nobel Prize winners and leaders of industry, education, the arts, sports and government.

The Ellis Island Medals of Honor celebrate the diversity of American life, honoring not only individuals, but the pluralism and democracy that have enabled ancestry groups to maintain their identities while becoming integral parts of the American Way of life.


Click here for full list of 2011 medalist

Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 May 2011 12:40

Jeremic to represent Serbia at UNSC session on May 12

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Source: Tanjug


Minister of Foreign Affairs Vuk Jeremic said that he will represent Serbia at the regular session of the UN Security Council in New York, at which Serbia's initiative that the investigation of the illegal trade in human organs should be conducted by an independent body with the UN mandate will be considered.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Vuk Jeremic said that he will represent Serbia at the regular session of the UN Security Council in New York, at which Serbia's initiative that the investigation of the illegal trade in human organs should be conducted by an independent body with the UN mandate will be considered.

Jeremic said at a press conference held after his meeting with Namibian Minister of Foreign Affairs Utoni Nujoma that any investigation that is not under the UN Security Council mandate could not establish the full truth for many reasons, of which the most important is territorial jurisdiction.

EULEX does not have the mandate to investigate beyond the territory of Kosovo-Metohija, and if there is a sincere intention to establish the truth, then the investigation must be conducted on a much larger geographical area, Jeremic underlined.

He said that the UN SC members are holding consultations on Serbia's initiative behind closed doors, and added that he does not expect the final decision to be made at the 12 May session.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 May 2011 09:11


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Đurđevdan (Ђурђевдан) in Serbian, (Serbian: Ђурђевдан "George's day", is a South-Slavic religious holiday, celebrated on April 23 by the Julian calendar (May 6 by Gregorian calendar), which is the feast of Saint George and a very important Slava. He is one of the most important Christian saints in Orthodox churches. This holiday is attached to the tradition of celebrating the beginning of spring. Christian synaxaria hold that St. George was a martyr who died for his faith. On icons, he is usually depicted as a man riding a horse and killing a dragon. Every Đurđevdan is celebrated all over the Serbian diaspora but mainly in Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia Herzegovina.

 Happy Đurđevdan !



This Sunday May ,08 2011 Djurdjevdan celebration in monastery New Gracanica. (Click here for more info)

Ambassador Warlick’s RTS Interview with Oko

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Ambassador Warlick’s RTS Interview with Oko Magazin.

Radio Television Serbia aired Ambassador Mary Warlick’s interview with Oko’s Zoran Stanojevic on March 31.


Relations between the United States of America and Serbia (established in 1881 while the Consulat-General in New York was opened in 1879) have been traditionally friendly and comprehensive with the exception of the past decade. This was reflected, inter alia, in the US support to the creation of the first South Slav common state in 1918 (support of the right of peoples to self-determination), the alliance in two world wars, developed political contacts and sizable economic assistance provided by the US to Yugoslavia after the Second World War.



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