12/09/2008

working for the dictionary

Charles Simic: Poets are, basically, employees of the dictionary. They work for the dictionary.

Jeffrey Brown: You work for the dictionary?

Simic:
Yes, we work for the dictionary.

Brown: What do you mean?

Simic: We keep the language, I think, honest and interesting. We look up words all the time, we open them up. We put some words to use that haven't been used in a long time.

-from an interview as part of NewsHour's Poetry Series

4 comments:

Daniela said...

Simic is hitting the nail on the head, or would that be the word. I love that he says: honest and interesting.

Anonymous said...

employees? a poet is more like a dictionary's conscience, constantly reminding it of the futility of its endeavor--trying to encapsulate and demarcate language between two hard covers. this is a little more purple then i intended.

Rob Taylor said...

I think I like that definition more than Simic's, Anonymous.

If only I knew your name so I could properly credit you for it :).

Daniela said...

looking at different angles and different shades of purple, yes, the poet defies the dictionary, and the poet defines anew.
and just like a metaphor violates the rules of language, and with that opens space for meaning to be made, the poet violates the definitions. is this tending toward green?