Harman Writer-In-Residence, Spring 2008
Charles Simic, U.S. Poet Laureate, was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, in 1938 and immigrated to the United States in 1953. He has lived in New York, Chicago, the San Francisco area, and in New Hampshire where, until his retirement, he was a professor ofEnglish at the University of New Hampshire.
Since 1967 Simic has published numerous collections of poems, including My Noiseless Entourage; Selected Poems: 1963-2003, for which he received the 2005 International Griffin Poetry Prize; The Voice at 3:00 AM: Selected Late and New Poems; The World Doesn’t End: Prose Poems, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; Selected Poems: 1963-1983; Classic Ballroom Dances, which won the University of Chicago’s Harriet Monroe Award and the Poetry Society of America’s Di Castagnola Award. His books of prose include Memory Piano, Metaphysician in the Dark, A Fly in My Soup, Orphan Factory, The Unemployed Fortune-Teller: Essays and Memoirs, Dime-Store Alchemy: The Art of Joseph Cornell, and Wonderful Words, Silent Truth: Essays on Poetry and a Memoir, as well as several translations of poets from the former Yugoslavia. (December 2007).
Simic has received two PEN Awards for his work as a translator, and a MacArthur Fellowship. He is a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books and the poetry editor of The Paris Review. His new book of poems, That Little Something, will be published in Spring 2008. (December 2007).
“For Li-Young Lee
The likelihood of ever finding it is small.
It’s like being accosted by a woman
And asked to help her look for a pearl
She lost right here in the street.
She could be making it all up,
Even her tears, you say to yourself
As you search under your feet,
Thinking, not in a million years…
It’s one of those summer afternoons
When one needs a good excuse
To step out of a cool shade.
In the meantime, what ever became of her?
And why, years later, do you still,
Off and on, cast your eyes to the ground
As you hurry to some appointment
Where you are now certain to arrive late.”
— From That Little Something
Mr. Simic appears in the PBS DVD U.S. Poet Laureates on the NewsHour: Bonus Edition 2007. His most recent publications include Sixty Poems (2008), a compilation released on the occasion of his appointment as the fifteenth Poet Laureate of the United States, and The Monster Loves His Labyrinth, Notebooks (2008). (June 2009).
A Reading and Conversation with Charles Simic, March 18th, 2008
A standingroom only crowd was on hand to hear Charles Simic, U.S. poet laureate and Spring 2008 Harman visiting writer read poems and field questions. Simic told students that a poet can never live on poetry alone and that he owed his success to a combination of things, “some talent, hard work, and luck.”