Poet Laureate Charles Simic

Today I thought it was time to honor some Poet Laureates! The best place to start is with the current one, I think !


Born in Yugoslavia on May 9, 1938 Simic moved to New York with his family as a teenager, via Paris, France. He moved to Oak Park, Chicago, where he graduated from the same high school as Ernest Hemingway and then attended the University of Chicago before being drafted in 1961. He earned his bachelor’s degree from New York University in 1966. He married fashion designer Helen Dubin in 1964 and they have two children. He has been a U.S. citizen for 36 years and lives in Strafford, N.H.

Simic is the author of 18 books of poetry, is 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 has won numerous awards throughout his career including the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1990. 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.”

Here is just one of his outstanding offerings. If you would like to read more there is plenty to choose from he has over 60 books published in the USA. You could try ‘What the Grass Says’, his first full volume of poetry, ‘Jackstraws’, or ‘Walking the Black Cat’ or you could just get sixty of his most well known in a new volume called ‘Sixty Poems’ published this January by Harcourt. This poem is from his collection ‘The Voice at 3:00 a.m’.

Late September

The mail truck goes down the coast
Carrying a single letter.
At the end of a long pier
The bored seagull lifts a leg now and then
And forgets to put it down.
There is a menace in the air
Of tragedies in the making.

Last night you thought you heard television
In the house next door.
You were sure it was some new
Horror they were reporting,
So you went out to find out.
Barefoot, wearing just shorts.
It was only the sea sounding weary
After so many lifetimes
Of pretending to be rushing off somewhere
And never getting anywhere.

This morning, it felt like Sunday.
The heavens did their part
By casting no shadow along the boardwalk
Or the row of vacant cottages,
Among them a small church
With a dozen gray tombstones huddled close
As if they, too, had the shivers.

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