charles simic from- dime store alchemy
There is the Hôtel Beau-Séjour, Hôtel des Etrangers, Grand Hôtel de la Pomme d’Or, Hôtel du Nord, and many more. The man who never traveled made up his own Baedecker.
—Charles Simic, Dime-Store Alchemy: The Art of Joseph Cornell.
One of our intrepid staff members was in Chicago this past weekend for a wedding. While there he visited The Art Institute of Chicago, which houses the largest public collection of Joseph Cornell’s work as part of the Lindy and Edwin Bergman Collection. Which of course meant that said staff member thought about Charles Simic’s book on Cornell, Dime-Store Alchemy, and led him to post these pictures.
Inside everyone there are secret rooms. They’re cluttered and the lights are out. There’s a bed in which someone is lying with his face to the wall. In his head there are more rooms. In one, the venetian blinds shake in the approaching summer storm. Every once in a while an object on the table becomes visible: a broken compass, a pebble the color of midnight, an enlargement of a school photograph with a face in the back circled, a watch spring—each one of these items is a totem of the self.
Every art is about the longing of One for the Other. Orphans that we are, we make our sibling kin out of everything we find. The labor of art is the slow and painful metamorphosis of the One into the Other.
- National Poetry Month is not over yet, and although we think poetry is for all months, we wanted to celebrate the end of April with some recently published poems. Above is the poem “Totemism” by Charles Simic in Dime-Store Alchemy: The Art of Jospeh Cornell. Enjoy poetry and think!
This week we published Dime-Store Alchemy: The Art of Joseph Cornell by Charles Simic in paperback. For those who have not seen the hardcover edition, it is a melange of poetry and prose that reflects on the surrealist art and reclusive life of Joseph Cornell. It’s a book that defies description, and includes photography of Cornell’s celebrated boxes; here’s the first page:
TRAVELER IN A STRANGE LAND
A white pigeon pecking on the marble steps of the library watched over by two stone lions. It’s like a dream, I thought.
Next, I saw it on the table of the storefont fortune-teller pecking the eyers of the kind of hearts.
Next, it perched on the should of a black man riding a bicycle down Sixth Avenue.
Charles Simic, from Dime-Store Alchemy: The Art of Joseph Cornell, coming out in paperback this September.