Jan. 27, 2009, Charles Simic Reads in Portsmouth
Former U.S. Poet Laureate and UNH Professor of English Charles Simic will be giving a free reading at the Levenson Room of the Portsmouth Public Library on Tuesday, January 27th at 7pm. This reading is sponsored by the library and RiverRun Bookstore. Simic will read from two of his latest books: Sixty Poems and That Little Something.
Charles Simic, the fifteenth Poet Laureate of the United States (2007-2008), was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, in 1938, and immigrated to the United States in 1953, at the age of 15. He has lived in New York, Chicago, the San Francisco area, and for many years in New Hampshire where until his retirement he was a professor of English at the university. A poet, essayist and translator, he has been honored with Wallace Stevens Award, a Pulitzer Prize, two PEN Awards for his work as a translator, and a MacArthur Fellowship.
Since 1967 Simic has published numerous collections of poems, among them, My Noiseless Entourage (2005); Selected Poems: 1963-2003 (2004), for which he received the 2005 International Griffin Poetry Prize; The Voice at 3:00 AM: Selected Late and New Poems (2003); The World Doesn't End: Prose Poems (1990), for which he received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; Selected Poems: 1963-1983 (1990); Classic Ballroom Dances (1980), which won the University of Chicago's Harriet Monroe Award and the Poetry Society of America's di Castagnola Award. His newest book of poems, That Little Something, was released in the spring of 2008. A collection entitled Sixty Poems was released in honor of his appointment as US Poet Laureate.
Simic has also published a number of prose books: Memory Piano (2006); Metaphysician in the Dark (2003); A Fly in My Soup (2003); Orphan Factory (1998); The Unemployed Fortune-Teller: Essays and Memoirs (1994); Dime-Store Alchemy: The Art of Joseph Cornell (1992); Wonderful Words, Silent Truth: Essays on Poetry and a Memoir (1990); and Renegade, a book of essays, scheduled for publication Winter 2009. He has published many translations of poets from former Yugoslavia such as Ivan Lalic, Vasko Popa, Tomasz Salamun and Aleksandar Ristovic. He is a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books and the poetry editor of The Paris Review.
About his appointment to US Poet Laureate, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said, "The range of Charles Simic's imagination is evident in his stunning and unusual imagery. He handles language with the skill of a master craftsman, yet his poems are easily accessible, often meditative and surprising. He has given us a rich body of highly organized poetry with shades of darkness and flashes of ironic humor."
About THAT LITTLE SOMETHING (2008)
In his eighteenth collection, Charles Simic, the superb poet of the vaguely ominous sound, the disturbing, potentially significant image, moves closer to the dark heart of history and human behavior. "Evil things are being done in our name," he writes in "Those Who Clean After," and, even more directly, in "Memories of the Future" he writes:
There are one or two murderers in any crowd.
They do not suspect their destinies yet.
Wars are started to make it easy for them
To kill that woman pushing a baby carriage.
Simic understands the strange interplay between ordinary life and extremes, between reality and imagination, and he writes with absolute purity about those contradictory but simultaneous states of being or feeling: "Everything about you / My life, is both / Make-believe and real." A profoundly important poet for our time, and a stunning book.
RiverRun Bookstore is located at 20 Congress Street in downtown Portsmouth. The Portsmouth Public Library is located at 175 Parrott Avenue in downtown Portsmouth. For more information on the event, visit www.riverrunbookstore.com or call (603) 431-2100. The event is free and open to the public.