Charles Simic

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Charles Simic
Simic in 2015
Simic in 2015
BornDušan Simić
(1938-05-09) May 9, 1938 (age 84)
Belgrade, Kingdom of Yugoslavia
NationalitySerbian, American
Notable awardsPulitzer Prize for Poetry (1990)
Wallace Stevens Award (2007)
Zbigniew Herbert International Literary Award (2014)

Dušan Simić (Serbian Cyrillic: Душан Симић, pronounced [dǔʃan sǐːmitɕ]; born May 9, 1938), known as Charles Simic, 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 University of New Hampshire, where he has taught since 1973[3] and lives in Strafford, New Hampshire.[4]


He began to make a name for himself in the early to mid-1970s as a literary minimalist, writing terse, imagistic poems.[5] 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."[6]

Simic writes on such diverse topics as jazz, art, and philosophy.[7] He was influenced by Emily Dickinson, Pablo Neruda, and Fats Waller.[8] 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.[9]

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.[10]

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".[11]

In 2011, Simic was the recipient of the Frost Medal, presented annually for "lifetime achievement in poetry".[12]




  • 1967: What the grass says : poems. San Francisco: Kayak. 1967.[15]
  • 1969: Somewhere among us a stone is taking notes. 1969.[15]
  • 1971: Dismantling the Silence[15]
  • 1972: White[15]
  • 1974: Return to a Place Lit by a Glass of Milk[15]
  • 1976: Biography and a Lament[15]
  • 1977: Charon's Cosmology[15]
  • 1978: Brooms: Selected Poems[15]
  • 1978: School for Dark Thoughts[15]
  • 1980: They Forage at Night
  • 1980: Classic Ballroom Dances[15]
  • 1982: Austerities[15]
  • 1983: Weather Forecast for Utopia & Vicinity: Poems, 1967–1982[15]
  • 1985: Selected Poems, 1963–1983[15] (1986 Pulitzer Prize finalist)
  • 1986: Unending Blues[15] (1987 Pulitzer Prize finalist)
  • 1989: Pyramids and Sphinxes
  • 1989: Nine Poems[15]
  • 1989: The World Doesn't End: Prose Poems[15] (1990 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry)
  • 1990: The Book of Gods and Devils[15]
  • 1992: Hotel Insomnia[15]
  • 1994: A Wedding in Hell: Poems[15]
  • 1995: Frightening Toys[15]
  • 1996: Walking the Black Cat: Poems,[15] (National Book Award in Poetry finalist)
  • 1997: Looking for Trouble: Selected Early and More Recent Poems. Faber and Faber. 1997. ISBN 0-571-19233-5.
  • 1999: Jackstraws: Poems[15] (The New York Times Notable Book of the Year) ISBN 0-15-601098-4
  • 1999: Simic, Charles (1999). Selected Early Poems. ISBN 978-0-8076-1456-3.
  • 2001: Night Picnic,[15] ISBN 0-15-100630-X
  • 2003: The Voice at 3:00 A.M.: Selected Late and New Poems[15] ISBN 0-15-603073-X
  • 2004: Selected Poems: 1963–2003, 2004 (winner of the 2005 International Griffin Poetry Prize)
  • 2005: Aunt Lettuce, I Want to Peek under Your Skirt[15] (illustrated by Howie Michels)
  • 2005: My Noiseless Entourage: Poems,[15] ISBN 0-15-101214-8
  • 2008: 60 Poems,[15] ISBN 0-15-603564-2
  • 2008: That Little Something: Poems,[15] ISBN 0-15-603539-1
  • 2008: The Monster Loves His Labyrinth: Notebooks, ISBN 1-931337-40-3
  • 2008: Army: Memoir. In preparation
  • 2010: Master of Disguises, Poems. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. October 6, 2010. ISBN 978-0-547-50453-7.
  • 2013: New and Selected Poems: 1962-2012. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. March 26, 2013. ISBN 978-0-547-92830-2.
  • 2013: Selected Early Poems. George Braziller Inc. March 20, 2013. ISBN 978-0-8076-1620-8.
  • 2015: The Lunatic. HarperCollins/Ecco. April 7, 2015. ISBN 978-0-06-236474-6.
  • 2017: Scribbled in the Dark. HarperCollins/Ecco. June 13, 2017. ISBN 978-0-06-266117-3.
  • 2019: Come closer and listen : new poems. New York: Ecco. 2021.
  • 2022: No Land in Sight: Poems. Knopf. August 9, 2022. ISBN 978-0-593-53493-9.
List of poems
Title Year First published Reprinted/collected
Left out of the Bible 2021 Simic, Charles (May 31, 2021). "Left out of the Bible". The New Yorker. 97 (14): 45.


  • 1985: The Uncertain Certainty: Interviews, Essays, and Notes on Poetry[15]
  • 1990: Wonderful Words, Silent Truth: Essays on Poetry and a Memoir[15]
  • 1992: Dime-Store Alchemy: The Art of Joseph Cornell[15]
  • 1994: The Unemployed Fortune-Teller: Essays and Memoirs[15]
  • 1997: Orphan Factory: Essays and Memoirs[15]
  • 2000: A Fly in the Soup: Memoirs[15]
  • 2003: The Metaphysician in the Dark[15] (University of Michigan Press, Poets on Poetry Series)
  • 2006: Memory Piano. University of Michigan Press, Poets on Poetry Series. 2006. ISBN 978-0-472-06940-8.
  • 2008: The Renegade: Writings on Poetry and a Few Other Things[15]
  • 2015: The Life of Images: Selected Prose

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Poet Laureate Timeline: 2001–present". Library of Congress. 2009. Archived from the original on August 5, 2010. Retrieved January 1, 2009.
  2. ^ Charles Simic profile Archived April 8, 2017, at the Wayback Machine,; accessed April 21, 2017.
  3. ^ Poet Charles Simic
  4. ^ "More about Charles Simic from Library of Congress".
  5. ^ Rodriguez, J. Matos (2005). Unmothered Americas: Poetry and Universality (On Charles Simic, Alejandra Pizarnik, and Giannina Braschi. New York: Columbia University Academic Commons.
  6. ^ Simic, Charles (ed.) (1992) The Best American Poetry 1992, Charles Scribner's Sons p xv ISBN 978-0-684-19501-8
  7. ^ Chinen, Nate (January 10, 2008). "A Breezy Exchange Between Old Friends (Jazz and Poetry)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 19, 2020.
  8. ^ Williams, Eric. "A Conversation with Charles Simic".
  9. ^ Simic, Charles (February 4, 2014). "Charles Simic". Charles Simic. Retrieved January 31, 2018.
  10. ^ "Charles Simic Receives The Wallace Stevens Award" (Press release). Academy of American Poets. August 2, 2007. Archived from the original on June 25, 2008. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  11. ^ Motoko Rich (August 2, 2007). "Charles Simic, Surrealist With Dark View, Is Named Poet Laureate". The New York Times. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  12. ^ "Announcing the 2011 Frost Medalist, Charles Simic". Poetry Society of America. Retrieved April 18, 2020.
  13. ^ 1990 Pulitzer Prizes
  14. ^ "Ethiopia – Dinaw Mengestu wins the 2011 Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Literature". Retrieved November 11, 2015.
  15. ^ 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.

External links[edit]



Interviews and review[edit]