January 26, 2023

Charles Simic 1938-2023

Simic in 2015
Simic   GFDL 1.2, Link

Charles Simic, a former Poet Laureate, died this month from complications of dementia at the age of eighty-four. 

A winner of the Pulitzer Prize and countless other accolades, he was also a longtime teacher at the University of New Hampshire and co-poetry editor of the Paris Review.

Born in 1938, Simic was a prolific writer of both poetry and nonfiction. He wrote often about war-torn Belgrade, where his childhood was overshadowed by the Nazi invasion. He immigrated to the United States in 1954.

His work considered the mundane, the minuscule, and melancholy, but could also be funny. 

From his “Promises of Leniency and Forgiveness”:

    Incurable romantics marrying eternal grumblers.

    Life haunted by its more beautiful sister-life—

    Always, always … we had nothing

    But the way with words.

In his essay “Poetry and Experience,” Simic wrote "At least since [Ralph Waldo] Emerson and [Walt] Whitman, there’s a cult of experience in American poetry. Our poets, when one comes right down to it, are always saying: This is what happened to me. This is what I saw and felt. Truth, they never get tired of reiterating, is not something that already exists in the world, but something that needs to be rediscovered almost daily."

Read some poems by him at poets.org

Visit our website at poetsonline.org

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