Charles Simic

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Charles Simic
Simic in 2015
Simic in 2015
BornDušan Simić
(1938-05-09) 9 May 1938 (age 81)
Belgrade, Yugoslavia
NationalitySerbian, American
Notable awardsPulitzer 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 former 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[edit]

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. He received the US$100,000 Wallace Stevens Award in 2007 from the Academy of American Poets.[6]

Simic 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, Simic was the recipient of the Frost Medal, presented annually for "lifetime achievement in poetry".



Poetry collections[edit]

Collections in translations by Simic[edit]

Prose collections[edit]

  • 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 5 August 2010. Retrieved 1 January 2009.
  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 (4 February 2014). "Charles Simic". Charles Simic. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  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 (2 August 2007). "Charles Simic, Surrealist With Dark View, Is Named Poet Laureate". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 January 2016.
  8. ^ 1990 Pulitzer Prizes
  9. ^ "Ethiopia - Dinaw Mengestu wins the 2011 Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Literature". Retrieved 11 November 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 24 May 2013.

External links[edit]



Interviews and review[edit]