Charles Simic

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, Charles Simic served as Poet Laureate from 2007 to 2008. His poetry has been set to music by American composers such as Robert Carl and Jay Vosk.

Photo: Charles Simic, by Scott Cook, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

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“Charles Simic was born in Yugoslavia on May 9, 1938. His childhood was complicated by the events of World War II. He moved to Paris with his mother when he was 15; a year later, they joined his father in New York and then moved to Oak Park, a suburb of Chicago, where he graduated from the same high school as Ernest Hemingway. Simic attended the University of Chicago, working nights in an office at the Chicago Sun Times, but was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1961 and served until 1963. He earned his bachelor’s degree from New York University in 1966. From 1966 to 1974 he wrote and translated poetry, and he also worked as an editorial assistant for Aperture, a photography magazine. He married fashion designer Helen Dubin in 1964. They have two children. He has been a U.S. citizen since 1971 and lives in Strafford, N.H.

“Simic is the author of 19 books of poetry. He is also an essayist, translator, editor and professor emeritus of creative writing and literature at the University of New Hampshire, where he has taught for 34 years. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1990 for his book of prose poems The World Doesn’t End (1989). His 1996 collection, Walking the Black Cat, was a finalist for the National Book Award for Poetry. In 2005 he won the Griffin Prize for Selected Poems: 1963-2000. Simic’s latest book of poetry, That Little Something, was published in April 2008.

“Simic held a MacArthur Fellowship from 1984-1989, and has also held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. He has received the Edgar Allan Poe Award, the PEN Translation Prize and awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Institute of Arts and Letters. He was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2000. On August 2, 2007, the same day he was appointed Poet Laureate, Simic received the $100,000 Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets for ‘outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry.'”

–Library of Congress Poets Laureate page

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