Pulitzer-winning poet Charles Simić dies

Charles Simić, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet who awed critics and readers with his lyricism, tragic insight and disruptive humour, has died at age 84.

Author of dozens of books, Simić was ranked by many as among the greatest and most original poets of his time, one who didn’t write in English until well into his 20s. His bleak, but the comic perspective was shaped in part by his years growing up in wartime Yugoslavia.

Simić was born in Belgrade in 1938. In his early childhood, during World War II, he and his family were forced to evacuate their home several times to escape the indiscriminate bombing of Belgrade. Growing up as a child in war-torn Europe shaped much of his worldview, Simić stated. In an interview with the Cortland Review he said, “Being one of the millions of displaced persons made an impression on me. In addition to my own little story of bad luck, I heard plenty of others. I’m still amazed by all the vileness and stupidity I witnessed in my life.”

When NATO bombed Serbia in 1999, Simić recalled that his aunt called him and asked him to give her Bill Clinton’s phone number so she could urge him to “cool down a little bit”.

Simić was known as an avid critic of politicians, especially those in the US, for whom he said the following:” I bet our elected representatives in Washington spend a lot of time in front of the mirror admiring themselves. With upturned noses and chins, they stare straight ahead, without the slightest grimace or arched eyebrow, and then they nod gravely and smile, to themselves, before going to meet the people.”

He was also an opponent of big business and once noted:” They stood up and applauded the rich man for bankrupting companies and laying off workers, then crowded around him to get his autograph.”

(Blic, 10.01.2023)


This post is also available in: Italiano

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