one of the most original and prolific voices in contemporary poetry. Born in Belgrade, in the former Yugoslavia, he has written thousands of inimitable poems that bring a distinctly European perspective to American literature. This eccentric un-American perspective remains a recognizable part of Simic's body of work, even though he has lived and worked in the United States his entire adult life.
Simic was born and raised in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. After he emigrated to the united States in 1954, he received a B.A. from New York university. He served in the army from 1961 to 1963. Since 1973 he has taught creative writing at the university of New Hampshire, Durham. He has received several prestigious awards and fellowships, including the Pulitzer Prize for The World Doesn't End in 1990. His numerous poetry volumes include Dismantling the Silence (1971), Classic Ballroom Dances (1980), Hotel Insomnia (1992), Jack-straws (1999), and The Voice at 3 a.m. (2003). He is also the author of several collections of essays and translations, including, in 1992, Dime-Store Alchemy, a book of essays and poems about the work of the modern American visionary artist Joseph Cornell.
Simic's poems offer an unusual mixture of realism and surrealism, often refined by an acute sense of the absurd or simple black humor. This is not to say that Simic's poems are not serious. Simic can be funny, gaudy, and witty as a clown, but also incisive, terse, and elliptic as a monk. His poems are concrete and detailed, demonstrating a vast variety of modes and moods. They shun abstraction and often focus on everyday situations and objects, adding to them qualities that become unexpectedly fresh and fitting.
In his early miniaturist poem "Fork" (1969), for example, Simic describes the utensil as the claw of some terrifying primordial bird. In a late poem, "Country Fair" (1991), the opposite takes place. A six-legged dog, billed as the principal exhibit at a country fair, suddenly becomes the most ordinary of dogs: "The dog got the stick and looked back at us. / And that was the whole show." The world created by Simic has all the trappings of reality. It is familiar, because it is human, a world readers recognize but without a consoling sense of relief. Instead the reaction is more like one of unease or self-estrangement.
The most recognizable feature of Simic's poems is that they never take anything for granted. They create their reality out of the most trivial, random, and incoherent parts of life, with a result that is often unsettling, but also unexpectedly profound. His poems achieve transcendence by taking ordinary shortcuts.
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