September 17, 2007 Poet Laureate Charles Simic Opens Literary Season with a Reading, Oct. 18

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Patricia Gray (202) 707-5394

Charles Simic, the new Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, known for his vivid imagery and excellent craftsmanship, will open the Library’s 2007-08 literary season with a reading on Oct. 18. The event will start at 6:45 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 18, in the Montpelier Room on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. Sponsored by the Library’s Poetry and Literature Center in the Office of Scholarly Programs, the reading is free and open to the public. Tickets and reservations are not required. Simic will read from his own popular works of poetry, to be determined on the evening of the event. He said, “I’m like the piano player at your favorite bar. I tickle the ivories, look over the customers and then decide what I feel like playing.” Simic also will read at the Library of Congress National Book Festival at noon on Saturday, Sept. 29, in the Poetry Pavilion on the National Mall. He will sign books at the festival from 1:00 to 1:30 p.m. Librarian of Congress James H. Billington announced on August 2 the appointment of Charles Simic to be the Library’s 15th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. In making the selection, Billington said, “The range of Charles Simic imagination is evident in his stunning and unusual imagery… He has given us a rich body of highly organized poetry with shades of darkness and flashes of ironic humor.” Simic is the author of 18 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. The same day he was announced U.S. Poet Laureate, Simic received the $100,000 Wallace Stevens Award for mastery in the art of poetry from the American Academy of Poets. In 1990 Simic won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his book of prose poems “The World Doesn't End” (1989). In 2005 he won the Griffin Prize for “Selected Poems: 1963-2003.” His 1996 collection “Walking the Black Cat” was a finalist for the National Book Award for Poetry. Simic held a MacArthur Fellowship from 1984 to 1989. Simic’s most recent volume of poetry is “My Noiseless Entourage” (Harcourt, 2005). In February 2008, he will publish a new collection “That Little Something” (Harcourt). Born in Yugoslavia on May 9, 1938, Simic experienced the bombings of World War II. He arrived in the United States in 1954, learning to speak English at 15. After graduating from high school in Oak Park, Ill., he served a two-year stint in the U.S. Army and then earned a bachelor’s degree from New York University. He has been a U.S. citizen for 36 years and lives in Strafford, N.H. The Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress administers the poetry series, which began in the 1940s and is the oldest in the Washington area and among the oldest in the United States. The readings and lectures are free and have been largely supported since 1951 by a gift from the late Gertrude Clarke Whittall. The center is also the home of the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, a position that has existed since 1936, when the late Archer M. Huntington endowed the Chair of Poetry at the Library of Congress. Since then, more than 40 of the nation’s most eminent poets have served as either Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress or, after the passage of Public Law 99-194 in 1985, as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. The Poet Laureate suggests authors to read in the literary series and plans other special literary events during the reading season. For more information, visit


PR 07-181
ISSN 0731-3527