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. He is professor emeritus at the University of New Hampshire.
A poet, essayist, and translator, Simic has been honored with the Frost Medal, the Wallace Stevens Award, a Pulitzer Prize, two PEN Awards for his work as a translator, and a MacArthur Fellowship. In 2014, he was awarded the Zbigniew Herbert International Literary Award, which recognizes outstanding artistic and intellectual literary achievements that uphold the values of Zbigniew Herbert’s work. Edward Hirsch, a member of the international Jury, points out that Simic “specializes in tragicomedy. Like Zbigniew Herbert, he has a keen historical awareness, a sardonic sense of humor, and a powerful consciousness of human tragedy. He speaks out against human venality. His way of attacking a poem has inspired poets world-wide. He also inspires readers because he reminds people of their humanity.”
He is the author of numerous collections of poems, among them, The Lunatic (2015), Master of Disguises; Selected Poems: 1963-2003, for which he received the 2005 International Griffin Poetry Prize; The World Doesn’t End: Prose Poems, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; Classic Ballroom Dances, which won the University of Chicago’s Harriet Monroe Award and the Poetry Society of America’s di Castagnola Award. 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, most recently Memory Piano, and many translations of poets from former Yugoslavia as well as an anthology of Serbian poetry entitled The Horse Has Six Legs. He is a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books and The Paris Review.