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Biography Charles Simic

U.S. Poet Laureate, 2007-2008

Charles Simic, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2007-2008. Photo credit: Scott Cook.

Charles Simic was born in Belgrade, former Yugoslavia, on May 9, 1938. Simic’s 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. 

Simic is the author of more than 30 poetry collections, including The World Doesn’t End: Prose Poems (1989), which received the Pulitzer Prize; Jackstraws (1999); Selected Poems: 1963-2003 (2004), which received the International Griffin Poetry Prize; and Scribbled in the Dark (2017). He is also an essayist, translator, editor, and professor emeritus of creative writing and literature at the University of New Hampshire, where he taught for over 30 years.

Simic has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the Academy of American Poets, and the National Endowment for the Arts. His other honors and awards include the Frost Medal, the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets, and the PEN Translation Prize. He served as the 15th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, and was elected as Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2001. Simic has also been elected into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Professor Emeritus at the University of New Hampshire, he teaches English and creative writing and lives in Strafford, New Hampshire.

Audio Recordings with Charles Simic

Selected Works at the Library of Congress