Charles Simic

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Charles Simic
Charles simic 6693.JPG
Born Dušan Simić
(1938-05-09) 9 May 1938 (age 80)
Belgrade, Yugoslavia
Occupation Poet
Nationality Serbian-American
Notable awards Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (1990)
Wallace Stevens Award (2007)
Zbigniew Herbert International Literary Award (2014)

Charles Simic (Serbian: Душан "Чарлс" Симић [dǔʃan tʃârls sǐːmitɕ]; born Dušan Simić; May 9, 1938) is a Serbian-American poet and was co-poetry editor of the Paris Review. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1990 for The World Doesn't End, and was a finalist of the Pulitzer Prize in 1986 for Selected Poems, 1963-1983 and in 1987 for Unending Blues. He was appointed the fifteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 2007.[1]


Early years

Dušan Simić was born in Belgrade. In his early childhood, during World War II, he and his family were forced to evacuate their home several times to escape indiscriminate bombing of Belgrade. Growing up as a child in war-torn Europe shaped much of his world-view, Simic states. In an interview from the Cortland Review he said, "Being one of the millions of displaced persons made an impression on me. In addition to my own little story of bad luck, I heard plenty of others. I'm still amazed by all the vileness and stupidity I witnessed in my life."[2]

Simic immigrated to the United States with his brother and mother in order to join his father in 1954 when he was sixteen. He grew up in Chicago. In 1961 he was drafted into the U.S. Army, and in 1966 he earned his B.A. from New York University while working at night to cover the costs of tuition. He is professor emeritus of American literature and creative writing at the University of New Hampshire, where he has taught since 1973[3] and lives on the shore of Bow Lake in Strafford, New Hampshire.[citation needed]


He began to make a name for himself in the early to mid-1970s as a literary minimalist, writing terse, imagistic poems. Critics have referred to Simic's poems as "tightly constructed Chinese puzzle boxes". He himself stated: "Words make love on the page like flies in the summer heat and the poet is merely the bemused spectator."[4]

Simic writes on such diverse topics as jazz, art, and philosophy. He is a translator, essayist and philosopher, opining on the current state of contemporary American poetry. He held the position of poetry editor of The Paris Review and was replaced by Dan Chiasson. He was elected to The American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1995, received the Academy Fellowship in 1998, and was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2000.[5]

Simic was one of the judges for the 2007 Griffin Poetry Prize and continues to contribute poetry and prose to The New York Review of Books. Simic received the US$100,000 Wallace Stevens Award in 2007 from the Academy of American Poets.[6]

He was selected by James Billington, Librarian of Congress, to be the fifteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, succeeding Donald Hall. In choosing Simic as the poet laureate, Billington cited "the rather stunning and original quality of his poetry".[7]

In 2011, he was the recipient of the Frost Medal, presented annually for “lifetime achievement in poetry.”



Poetry collections

Collections in translations by Simic

Prose collections

  • 1985: The Uncertain Certainty: Interviews, Essays, and Notes on Poetry[10]
  • 1990: Wonderful Words, Silent Truth: Essays on Poetry and a Memoir[10]
  • 1992: Dime-Store Alchemy: The Art of Joseph Cornell[10]
  • 1994: The Unemployed Fortune-Teller: Essays and Memoirs[10]
  • 1997: Orphan Factory: Essays and Memoirs[10]
  • 2000: A Fly in the Soup: Memoirs[10]
  • 2003: The Metaphysician in the Dark[10] (University of Michigan Press, Poets on Poetry Series)
  • 2006: Memory Piano. University of Michigan Press, Poets on Poetry Series. ISBN 978-0472069408. 
  • 2008: The Renegade: Writings on Poetry and a Few Other Things[10]
  • 2015: The Life of Images: Selected Prose


  1. ^ "Poet Laureate Timeline: 2001–present". Library of Congress. 2009. Archived from the original on August 5, 2010. Retrieved 2009-01-01. 
  2. ^ Charles Simic profile,; accessed April 21, 2017.
  3. ^ Poet Charles Simic
  4. ^ Simic, Charles (ed.) (1992) The Best American Poetry 1992, Charles Scribner's Sons p xv ISBN 978-0-684-19501-8
  5. ^ Simic, Charles (2014-02-04). "Charles Simic". Charles Simic. Retrieved 2018-01-31. 
  6. ^ "Charles Simic Receives The Wallace Stevens Award" (Press release). Academy of American Poets. 2 August 2007. Archived from the original on 25 June 2008. Retrieved 22 January 2016. 
  7. ^ Motoko Rich (August 2, 2007). "Charles Simic, Surrealist With Dark View, Is Named Poet Laureate". The New York Times. Retrieved January 22, 2016. 
  8. ^ 1990 Pulitzer Prizes
  9. ^ "Ethiopia - Dinaw Mengestu wins the 2011 Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Literature". Retrieved November 11, 2015. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax "Former Poet Laureate Charles Simic". Library of Congress. Retrieved May 24, 2013. 

External links


  • Profile and poems of Charles Simic, including audio files, at the Poetry Foundation.
  • Profile and poems written and audio at Poetry Archive
  • biography, poems written and audio
  • Griffin Poetry Prize biography and video clip
  • Hossack, Irene. "Charles Simic". The Literary Encyclopedia; first published May 4, 2006.


  • Charles Simic Poetry, published in Issue Three and Issue Four of The Coffin Factory
  • Charles Simic Online Resources, Library of Congress
  • Audio recording (.mp3) of Charles Simic reading at the Key West Literary Seminar, 2003
  • "Seven Prose Poems" by Charles Simic in The Cafe Irreal Issue 13, February 1, 2005
  • Simic reading from a collection of his own works (Audio, 14 mins)
  • Video of Charles Simic reading at Boston University's Robert Lowell Memorial Lecture, 2009 (60 mins)
  • Simic author page and article archive from The New York Review of Books

Interviews and review

  • Mark Ford (Spring 2005). "Charles Simic, The Art of Poetry No. 90". The Paris Review. 
  • Poetry featured in The Coffin Factory issues 3 and 4
  • The Cortland Review interview (August 1998)
  • "Charles Simic: The Orphan Of Silence"; Doctoral thesis by Goran Mijuk, February 1, 2002
  • An Interview with Charles Simic by Dejan Stojanović Serbian Magazine, August 9–23, 1991 (No. 89)
  • SESSIONS: Confessions of a Poet Laureate,, April 18, 2011
  • 2008 Bomb Magazine discussion between Charles Simic & Tomaž Šalamun
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