Charles Simić is a Serbian-American poet. He was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, in 1938, where he experienced a traumatic childhood during World War II. In 1954 he emigrated from Yugoslavia to the United States with his mother and brother to join his father. He has been living in and around Chicago since 1958 and he is a professor of English at the University of New Hampshire. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1990 with the poetry collection The World doesn’t End.
While reading Simić, we are almost forced to take a deep dive into mystery, magic, the absurd and the unknown. The poet selfishly pushes himself and ourselves towards the limit of what both the Real and the non-Real are by delving deeper into human fragility.
Unexpected images, creepy metaphors, irony and a bit of cynicism join the reader over the poetical journey and we wander in a land of poems and poems-in-prose where we never know what the author is up to till the end of each paragraph.
The dead man steps down from the scaffold. He holds his bloody head under his arm. …There, he takes a seat at one of the tables and orders two beers, one for him and one for his head….
About his work, a reviewer for the Harvard Review said, There are few poets writing in America today who share his lavish appetite for the bizarre, his inexhaustible repertoire of indelible characters and gestures … Simić is perhaps our most disquieting muse.
From The World doesn’t End, Part I
I am the last Napoleonic soldier. It’s almost two hundred years later and I am still retreating from Moscow. The road is lined with white birch trees and the mud comes up to my knees. The one-eyed woman wants to sell me a chicken, and I don’t even have any clothes on.
The Germans are going one way; I am going the other. The Russians are going still another way and waving good-by. I have a ceremonial saber. I use it to cut my hair, which is four feet long.