While standing in the rain smoking a pipe Wednesday night, Goran Simic, a Serbian poet from the former Yugoslavia, talked about being shunned by his tribe for speaking out against Serbian aggression.
“I was on the side which supported peace not the side which attacked Bosnia,” said Simic, one of four writers to give readings at Canadore College’s Weaver Auditorium as part of PEN Canada’s Readers and Writers series.
Simic stayed in Sarajevo during a four-year siege, and wrote poetry during that time that spoke out against the war.
One of the poems he read last night, Father and The Bees recalls how “…the inflammation of the empty stomachs of the dead, explode in the heat…”
This is just an example of some of the metaphorical content that can be found in Simic’s work.
“You never want to experience war,” he said, “because once you experience war, all wars are the same.”
Writing anti-war poetry didn’t go over to well with the government, Simic said.
“I was prosecuted in Bosnia. I was in a lot of trouble.”
Simic was able to flee his war-torn country with PEN Canada’s help. He came to Canada with his two children.
“It wasn’t easy,” Simic said, “but I adjusted, and now I am part of Canadian society.”
Simic, who travels back to Bosnia once a year to visit his friends, lives in Toronto and continues to write. He likes to play basketball in his spare time, but reading is his love.
“I want to live in Canada for the next 100 years,” Simic said.
After his reading Simic stood in the rain smoking his pipe with ease, because he knows he has become part of a new tribe, a tribe where freedom of expression prevails.