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In his prolific career, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Charles Simic published seven books of essays, a memoir, numerous translations, and over twenty collections of poetry. Born in 1938 in Belgrade Yugoslavia, Simic immigrated to the United States in 1952 and saw his first poems published in 1959. In 1961 he was drafted into the US Army and in 1966 earned his Bachelor’s degree at New York University, publishing his first full-length collection of poems What the Grass Says in 1967. Simic published more than 60 books in the United States including No Land in Sight (2022), The Lunatic (2015), New and Selected Poems: 1962-2012 (2013), My Noiseless Entourage (2005), Jackstraws (Notable Book of the Year in the New York Times 1999), Walking the Black Cat (finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry 1996), A Wedding in Hell (1994), Hotel Insomnia (1992), The World Doesn’t End: Prose Poems (for which he received the Pulitzer for Poetry in 1990), Selected Poems: 1963 – 1983 (1990), and Unending Blues (1986). He also published many translations of French, Serbian, Croatian and Macedonian and Slovenian poetry and has twice won the Pen International Translation Award.

Amongst his many accomplishments and accolades, Simic was the Guest Editor of The Best American Poetry 1992, was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2000, and received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Simic was our 2005 International Griffin Poetry Prize winner and was selected by the Griffin trustees as a judge for the 2007 Griffin Poetry Prize.

Simic was the 2007 recipient of the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets. The $100,000 (US) prize recognizes outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry. On the same day in August, 2007 that Simic received this award, the U.S. Library of Congress announced that he had been chosen as the new U.S. Poet Laureate.

From 1973-2023, Simic lived in New Hampshire where he was Professor of English at the University of New Hampshire.

We were deeply saddened by the announcement of Simic’s death on January 9, 2023.

Selected Poems: 1963-2003 2005 International Winner

Faber & Faber, UK

Judges’ Citation

Simic is something of a magician, a conjuror. Out of nothing it seems, out of thin air, the poems appear before our eyes.

Simic is something of a magician, a conjuror. Out of nothing it seems, out of thin air, the poems appear before our eyes. One apparently casual observation leads to another, and suddenly, exponentially, we are spellbound. It is a trick many have tried to imitate but few have achieved. At the centre of Simic’s art is a disarming, deadpan precision, which should never be mistaken for simplicity. Everything appears pared back to the solid and the essential, and it is this economy of vocabulary and clarity of diction which have made his poetry so portable and so influential wherever it is published. Simic is one of the few poets of our time to achieve both critical and popular acclaim; he is genuinely quotable, and it is entirely possible that some of his phrases and lines will lodge in the common memory. Without any hint of loftiness, then, and from a position which is entirely his own, Simic manages to speak to the many and not just the few.