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1. Master of Disguises
2. My Noiseless Entourage: Poems
3. Sixty Poems
4. The World Doesn't End
5. The Uncertain Certainty: Interviews,
6. The Monster Loves His Labyrinth
7. The Voice at 3:00 A.M.: Selected
8. Selected Early Poems
9. Selected Poems, 1963-1983
10. A Fly in the Soup: Memoirs (Poets
11. The Renegade: Writings on Poetry
12. Wonderful Words, Silent Truth:
13. Hotel Insomnia
14. Jackstraws: Poems
15. The Horse Has Six Legs: An Anthology
16. The Unemployed Fortune-Teller:
17. Charles Simic: Essays on the Poetry
18. Dime-Store Alchemy: The Art of
19. The Book of Gods and Devils
20. Orphan Factory: Essays and Memoirs

1. Master of Disguises
by Charles Simic
Hardcover: 96 Pages (2010-10-06)
list price: US$22.00 -- used & new: US$12.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0547397097
Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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In his first volume of poetry since his tenure as poet laureate, Charles Simic shows he is at the height of his poetic powers. These new poems mine the rich strain of inscrutability in ordinary life, until it is hard to know what is innocent and what ominous. There is something about his work that continues to be crystal clear and yet deeply weighted with violence and mystery. Reading it is like going undercover. The face of a girl carrying a white dress from the cleaners with her eyes half-closed. The Adam & Evie Tanning Salon at night. A sparrow on crutches. A rubber duck in a shooting gallery on a Sunday morning. And someone in a tree swing, too old to be swinging and to be wearing no clothes at all, blowing a toy trumpet at the sky.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

1-0 out of 5 stars Dissatisfied with formatting of lines and stanzas on the Kindle edition
The poor formatting of lines and stanzas on the Kindle edition made the book for me unreadable. I returned the Kindle purchase. I wrote to Amazon.com to explain the problem. I love the poems. I just could not bear to read them on the Kindle, not knowing how the author had arranged the words on the page. Why does it matter so much how the words are arranged on the page? The same words, in the same sequence, what's the problem? The problem is, the line breaks and the stanza breaks are a part of the message, a part of the meaning. If you're reading the poem aloud to an audience, you will read the physical layout of the words on the page as clues, as cues, that suggest to you how to deliver the words. Like a jazz musician will use marks on the page to decide how to play those notes, what parts of the body, brain, heart, stomach are brought to together in the emerging sound. ... Read more

2. My Noiseless Entourage: Poems
by Charles Simic
Hardcover: 80 Pages (2005-04-04)
list price: US$22.00 -- used & new: US$0.01
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0151012148
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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This new collection of poems from Charles Simic demonstrates once again his wit, moral acuity, and brilliant use of imagery. His settings are a farmhouse porch, a used-clothing store, empty station platforms; his subjects love, futility, and the sense of an individual life lived among a crowd of literal and imaginary presences.
Both sharp and sympathetic, the poems of this collection confirm Simic's place as one of the most important and appealing poets of our time.

To Dreams

I'm still living at all the old addresses,
Wearing dark glasses even indoors,
On the hush-hush sharing my bed
With phantoms, visiting in the kitchen

After midnight to check the faucet.
I'm late for school, and when I get there
No one seems to recognize me.
I sit disowned, sequestered and withdrawn.

These small shops open only at night
Where I make my unobtrusive purchases,
These back-door movie houses in seedy neighborhoods
Still showing grainy films of my life,

The hero always full of extravagant hope
Losing it all in the end?-whatever it was-
Then walking out into the cold, disbelieving light
Waiting close-lipped at the exit.

(20050301) ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars One of my favorites
There are some really beautiful and intriguing poems in here; the kind of writing you will want to read out loud and discuss with friends.I would highly recommend it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Another Superb Work of Genius from a True Master!
This collection, like all of Simic's others, is truly a work of superb genius. But unlike Simic's previous work, it is a totality of superb genius. By this I mean that there is not one "filler" poem, not one line or moment that he seems to slip -- it is wholly perfection.

Okay, this is a strong opinion, but true to me. This is a work of searching that is so fresh and unique in its undertakings and thoughts that it seems as if he has stumbled upon a new way of searching via poetry. But he hasn't. The eternal search (and whatever form that may take)is not new to any poet, but he has managed to keep the human search for him/herself, the universe, and so forth so very fresh one cannot help but admire and revel in the genius of each poem, each word, tone, sound, line. This collection of Simic will sit comfortably with your other Simic books ... and if this is your first foray into Simic, you will be truly captivated!

This collection seems to be a Charles realizing the answers (or at least the beginning of answers) to questions he has had forever, and thankfully his genius in the art of poetry gives him a way to deliver nuggets of knowledge and answers to all of us. But only nuggets; most of the beauty in these poems (and in a any great poetry) is the holding back.

Read these poems aloud ... and silently ... you'll see what I mean!

Keep 'em coming, Mr. Simic.

5-0 out of 5 stars Simic's Homage to Things that Go Unnoticed
Charles Simic is a poet, yes, but he is more than that highest compliment in literary circles. Simic is a visionary because he is in tune with the atoms and microns that float through our atmosphere, either discarded or simply ignored, or worse, never noticed by us, the usual beings.He manages is so few terse words to nudge us into awareness.

'Extraordinary efforts are being made
To hide things from us, my friend.
Some stay up into the wee hours
To search their souls.
Others undress each other in darkened rooms.'

Pause on every page of this physically slim but potent collection of his latest poems and see if you can turn away unchanged.Brilliant poetry from a consistently brilliant poet.Highly recommended.Grady Harp, September 05

5-0 out of 5 stars Stunning.
Charles Simic, My Noiseless Entourage (Harcourt, 2005)

Simic continues to astound readers with thin, gorgeous books of poetry every few years. It's been a while, though (this is his first book of completely new work since 1999's Jackstraws), and one has to wonder-- why the six-year gap? Is The man losing a step? Not at all, cholly. My Noiseless Entourage, from its opening words, transports the reader to that same weird and wonderful place that all of Simic's books do. (And, with him having recently garnered a quick mention in a Lemony Snicket book, perhaps his star will be rising to where it rightfully belongs in the near future.)

I had originally started off thinking I was going to quote specific passages from the book in testament to how great it is, but I ended up with so many I just opened the book and random and came across:

"America, I shouted at the radio,
Even at 2AM you are a loony bin!

No, I take it back!
You are a stone angel in the cemetery

Listening to blind geese in the sky
Your eyes blinded by snow."
(--"Talk Radio")

As always, there's not a word out of place, no fat to be trimmed from these wonderful, dadaesque ramblings. It's, perhaps, not quite as powerful as Simic's finest moments (The World Doesn't End or Return to a Place Lit by a Glass of Milk, for example), but you're talking about the difference between a 20 megaton bomb and a 19 megaton bomb; you're still going to come out of the experience having been blown away.

4-0 out of 5 stars A "Midnight Feast"

Simic's brilliant poetry is provocative, visual, casting thoughts like scattered jewels, begging to be picked up, examined, remembered. The title, My Noiseless Entourage, suggests the nature of this collection, shadowy thoughts that intrude to jostle the memory, like the ghosts of friends and neighbors walking one step behind on a long, winding country road with evening pushing in. These are the subterranean sounds no one acknowledges, but everyone hears, man and beast, the low-timbered groan of voices, shape-shifters seen from the corner of the eye.

In "The Role of Insomnia in History", the personal coexists with the impersonal:

"The mind is a palace
Walled with mirrors.
The mind is a country church,
Overrun with mice."

Thoughts scurry around at will, ever busy, judging, weighing. At the same time, others carry responsibility, those who dwell in the security of power:

"When dawn breaks,
The saints kneel,
The tyrants feed their hounds
Chunks of bloody meat."

Addressing both the mundane and the metaphysical, everything is on the table for consideration: "In the graveyard where he collects the rent/ Or in the night sky/ Where we address our complaints to him." (The Absentee Landlord)

Self-examination is fertile ground when viewing the world, making sense of the ghosts that follow us through the years, the simple pleasures, the missed opportunities:

"All I've ever done
It seems- is go poking
in the ruins with a stick
Until I was covered
With soot and ashes..." (December 21)

The depth of Simic's creativity is inexhaustible, characters plucked from the bustling city, the rural farm, the past, words opening and reconfiguring themselves, settling on the page anew to prick the broken strings of memory: "The sun doesn't care for ambiguities,/ But I do. I open my door and let them in." (Shading Exercise)

Luan Gaines/2005.

... Read more

3. Sixty Poems
by Charles Simic
Paperback: 108 Pages (2008-01-07)
list price: US$12.00 -- used & new: US$1.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0156035642
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Here are sixty of Charles Simic's best known poems, collected to celebrate his appointment as the fifteenth Poet Laureate of the United States.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

4-0 out of 5 stars Unique humor and cultural awareness
These sixty poems, spanning from 1986 (Unending Blues) through 2005 (My Noiseless Entourage), offer a brief view of Simic's unique perspective on immigrant, insomniac, social and religious awareness. For example "In the Library" .. There I discovered / The angels were once as plentiful / As species of flies." "or "I believe in the soul,; so far/ It hasn't made much difference."He offers unique relationships to objects in our world, trees for example in Leaves "What am I saying? / One leaf in a million more fearful/ More happy, / Than all the others.", or insects "You'll envy every ant you meet in your life".

4-0 out of 5 stars The Fruits of Labor
Charles Simic- the 2007 Poet Laureate- is a Serbian born American poet, whose work has rightly been described as visceral. Take his poem The Melon, in which Mimic's stark, emotive images cut like a knife:

There was a melon fresh from the garden
So ripe a knife slurped
As it cut into six slices.
The children were going back to school.
Their mother, passing out paper plates,
Would not live to see the leaves fall.

I remember a hornet, too, that flew in
Through the open window
Mad to taste the sweet fruit
While we ducked and screamed,
Covered our heads and faces,
And sat laughing after it was gone.

Here with the use of a few images: a melon, knife, hornet, paper plates, autumn leaves, a loving mother, ducking and screaming individuals, Simic gives us a touching tale about the cycles-of-life. The poem is both ambitious in scope and powerful in purport.

The poem opens with the dark imagery of a man-made knife slicing, slurping through a juicy, ripe piece of fruit. The reader is let in on this simple domestic scene, only to learn that the scene's protagonist is, unbeknownst to her, living out the last summer of her life.

As a reader, you are left only to wrangle, cringe, and fear for what will become of her charmingly oblivious young children. The autumnal imagery of leaves falling, placed at the end of the first and opening stanza, exacerbates our grief for the family.

The spring imagery and buzzing hornet, which open the second and final stanza, taunt the reader- in light of what we know. The "open window" offers not the palliative freedom it should. The ducking, screaming, and laughing individuals evoke empathy for the children. The children's innocence pulls at the heartstrings. What will become of these motherless children?

We are reminded of how we may be like the cowering individuals, hiding from the hornet's sting- life, all around us, buzzing, leaving us to react in our all-to-human, funny, and clueless ways. We live on, utterly unaware of the grand life force zooming onward in some realm above our heads, and what these forces may mean for those things we hold close. All-the-while, we do only that which seems natural: cover our heads and faces, and laugh.

Visceral, stark, full of meaning- Mimic's poetry provokes, enchants, tugs, and sings. One wonders how a Serbian can have embraced with such sweetness a language not his own. His poetry, however, is so touching, as a reader, you won't stop to wonder for long; instead, Mimic's poems will propel you onward and inward, into a state where the only sensible thing to do is to enjoy the fruits of his labor.

5-0 out of 5 stars Quirky poems
Simic has a quirky style.If you like quirk you may like this.Some profanity.

3-0 out of 5 stars Collection, but not new.
Charles Simic, Sixty Poems (Harcourt, 2007)

Whenever I hear there's a new Charles Simic book coming out, I look forward to it with great anticipation; thus, I was somewhat disappointed when I found out that this one is a compilation of poems from his later books (the earliest poems here are from Unending Blues), so I'd already read them all. Still, it's always a pleasure to go back and revisit Charles Simic poems, but if you've read all the recent books, move along, folks, nothing to see here. As a beginner course in Simic, it's useful, but would have been more so had it included poems from his wonderful earlier books (and, for some reason, there's nothing in here from the Pulitzer-winning The World Doesn't End). ***

4-0 out of 5 stars Sixty Poems
The book was received in excellent condition. Shipping was fairly quick. I have read many of the poems -- and enjoyed them. Simic is a contemporary master. ... Read more

4. The World Doesn't End
by Charles Simic
Paperback: 88 Pages (1989-03-14)
list price: US$13.00 -- used & new: US$2.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0156983508
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
In this collection, winner of the 1990 Pulitzer Prize, Charles Simic puns, pulls pranks. He can be jazzy and streetwise. Or cloak himself in antiquity. Simic has new eyes, and in these wonderful poems and poems-in-prose he lets the reader see through them.
Amazon.com Review
Yugoslavian-born Charles Simic, who came to the U.S. in 1954, isknown as a creator of poetic fantasy. In this volume, he constructs bizarre,startling and entertaining visions in short descriptive sentences that pileone incongruous turn upon another, building images that are fresh and full ofsurprise. Like the river in one poem which flows backward, the power of Simic's inner world derives from turning logic on its head and taking a lookfrom another direction. This collection was awarded the Pulitzer Prize forpoetry in 1990. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars One of Simic's Best
The World Doesn't End surprised me in many ways. It was unlike any other volume of his work I have yet read. I was so enthralled I read it cover to cover twice in the first week after I received it. I would have to say that this volume and Simic's "A Wedding in Hell" are two of my favorite volumes of poetry by any poet. Simic has a gift for combining the grotesque/bizarre with the everyday and condensing them down into compact poems that evoke the experience of lucid dreams. I highly recommend this small book!

5-0 out of 5 stars Yet Another Rave (YAR)
It hardly seems worthwhile for me to review this book since literally every blurb of it I've read here has been a 5-star rave. Nonetheless, I felt like I should add my $0.02US.

I may be unfairly biased, as this slim volume was my first introduction to Mr. Simic's work. Maybe if I'd read, say, "Walking the Black Cat" I would feel the same way about it, but be that as it may, I can safely say that "The World Doesn't End" is one of the best books I've read in any genre. I clearly remember the experience of reading it for the first time. Mr. Simic's tone is so direct and intimate that he immediately draws you in and then, when he's got you where he wants you, he proceeds to completely take you apart. The ground slips from under your feet. Tiny bombs explode in the foundational tissues of your cortex. Realigments occur.

My only regret is that I can never have the same experience again because... I've already read the damned book! Will someone please figure out a way to erase my memory so that I can go back and do it again? Simic. Are you working on this?

5-0 out of 5 stars Finest Living Poet
A truly original mystical poet. Reading this book was expensive for me, leaving me no choice but to order numerous, Charles Simic books.

5-0 out of 5 stars Mind-bogglingly good.
Charles Simic, The World Doesn't End: Prose Poems (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1990)

Charles Simic won the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for The World Doesn't End, and it is blessedly easy to see why. This collection (which, despite its subtitle, is mostly prose poems, with a few "regular" poems thrown in for good measure) could easily be a primer for the aspiring poet on exactly how to write a prose poem. (Would that more who attempt it had read this!) In the days when prose poetry has fallen so far from the poetic tree that a new subgenre, "flash fiction," had to be invented for the mass of the unpoetic claptrap, Simic gives us a book full of wonderful tall tales, flights of fancy, and utterly poetic language, all without ever once straying from the idea that what he is writing in these small pieces is, in fact, poetry.

"The dog went to dancing school. The dog's owner sniffed vials of Viennese air. One day the two heard the new Master of the Universe pass their door with a heavy step. After that, the man exchanged clothes with his dog. It was a dog on two legs, wearing a tuxedo, that they led to the edge of the common grave. As for the man, blind and deaf as he came to be, he still wags his tail at the approach of a stranger." --untitled (p. 40)

The World Doesn't End caused me to re-evaluate my ideas on what poetry is. Perhaps it is not, as Eliot would have it, language elevated; perhaps, instead, it is language as it should be. The standard as opposed to the elevation, the diction we should be striving for in our daily lives.

The finest book of poetry to cross my desk since Reznikoff's classic By the Waters of Manhattan half a decade ago. Must reading for poetry fans, and engaging stuff in prose form for those who don't do poetry. Just think of it as the best flash fiction ever written. In any case, whatever you have to do to convince yourself to do so, read this book. *****

5-0 out of 5 stars Shaking hands with Simic himself
In a time when many critics despise the prose poem, brushing it aside, refusing to accept such work into the usual canon of lyric poetry, Charles Simic defies all boundaries, combining prose form with a lyrical quality often absent in accepted "lyric" verse.
Simic's world of fantasy and surrealism don't come off as dreamy as one might think. If anything, he is somewhat of a journalist, reporting on events, images, people, animals, gypsies, etc., but from a purely personal perspective, a perspective we all can identify with because we see the world in similar fashion.
There are few poets more intimate than Simic. When looking through his eyes, which have seen and survived much, one can't get closer to one of contemporary poetry's strongest voices. ... Read more

5. The Uncertain Certainty: Interviews, Essays, and Notes on Poetry (Poets on Poetry)
by Charles Simic
Paperback: 144 Pages (1986-03-15)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$12.21
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0472063596
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Provides a critical and autobiographical context for viewing Simic's poetry
... Read more

6. The Monster Loves His Labyrinth
by Charles Simic
Paperback: 128 Pages (2008-09-01)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$5.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1931337403
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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“Nabokovian in his caustic charm and sexy intelligence, Simic perceives the mythic in the mundane and pinpoints the perpetual suffering that infuses human life with both agony and bliss. . . . And he is the master of juxtaposition, lining up the unlikeliest of pairings and contrasts as he explores the nexuses of madness and prophecy, hell and paradise, lust and death.”—Donna Seaman, Booklist

"As one reads the pithy, wise, occasionally cranky epigrams and vignettes that fill this volume, there is the definite sense that we are getting a rare glimpse into several decades worth of private journals--and, by extension are privy to the tickings of an accomplished and introspective literary mind."—Rain Taxi

Written over many years, this book is a collection of notebook entries by our current Poet Laureate.


Stupidity is the secret spice historians have difficulty identifying in this soup we keep slurping.

Ars poetica: trying to make your jailers laugh.

American identity is really about having many identities simultaneously. We came to America to escape our old identities, which the multiculturalists now wish to restore to us.

Ambiguity is the world’s condition. Poetry flirts with ambiguity. As a “picture of reality” it is truer than any other. This doesn’t mean that you’re supposed to write poems no one understands.

The twelve girls in the gospel choir sang as if dogs were biting their asses.

What an outrage! This very moment gone forever!

... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Pre-poetry notes and free associations.
This collection of short sentences or phrases contains thoughts of Yugoslavian born, poet, Simic and quotes from others on poetry, being Simic and being human, in insomnia, and religion.Some examples:
* I explained by accent to a doctor by telling him that I was raided by a family of deaf-mutes.
* I'm a member of that minority which refuses to be part of any officially designated minority.
*Birds sing to remind us that we have a soul.
*All my life I strove to make a small truth out of an infinity of errors.
* Cioran writes "God is afraid of man . . . . Man in a monster, and history has proved it.",
* How do you know the other? By being madly in Love.
* A poem is an invitation to a voyage. As in life we travel to see fresh sights.
* In a zoo, I noticed many animals who had a fleeting resemblance to me.
* Faulkner somewhere defined poetry as the whole history of the human heart on a head of a pin.
* Insomnia. A lifelong dereliction of duty.A form of rebellion against the whole of eternity.A spit in its eye, as it were.

5-0 out of 5 stars Monster Loves
This is an excellent book about poetry and Charles Simic's views on poetry, life and the world. Simic is perceptive beyond the normal individual and puts his thoughts into sharp and funny relief. For those who are poets, this is an inspiring book that will help you reach beyond your usual assumptions into a realm of free thought and feeling.

5-0 out of 5 stars Not poetry per se, but rather the stuff from which great poetry (or great prose) can be wrought
Yugoslavia-born U.S. Poet Laureate Charles Simic presents The Monster Loves His Labyrinth: Notebooks, an amalgamation of his notebook entries over the course of many years. The observations, insights, and inspirational gleanings are not themselves poetry per se, but rather the stuff from which great poetry (or great prose) can be wrought - or perhaps a simple source of thoughtful contemplation, ideal for whenever one has a few minutes to spare. "We call 'street wise' someone who knows how to look, listen, and interpret the teeming life around him. To walk down a busy city block is a critical act. Literature, aesthetics, and psychology all come into play."
... Read more

7. The Voice at 3:00 A.M.: Selected Late and New Poems
by Charles Simic
Paperback: 192 Pages (2006-03)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$1.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 015603073X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Charles Simic has been widely celebrated for his brilliant poetic imagery; his social, political, and moral alertness; his uncanny ability to make the ordinary extraordinary; and not least, the sardonic humor all his own. Gathering much of his material from the seemingly mundane minutiae of contemporary American culture, Simic matches meditations on spiritual concerns and the weight of history with a nimble wit, shifting effortlessly to moments of clear vision and intense poetic revelation.

Chosen as one of the New York Library's 25 Books to Remember for 2003, The Voice at 3:00 A. M. was also nominated for a National Book Award. The recipient of many prizes, Simic most recently received Canada's Griffin Prize. The poems in this collection--spanning two decades of his work--present a rich and varied survey of a remarkable lyrical journey.

In the Street
Beauty, dark goddess,
We met and parted
As though we parted not.
Like two stopped watches
In a dusty store window,
One golden morning of time.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Lyric Genius
This is a wonderful book of poems, full of selections from most of Simic's major books of poetry. Some of this selection does not include a lot of poems from his very early books which is unfortunate.

Many of these poems will dazzle and excite. He has a keen eye for the weird and the sublime alike.

4-0 out of 5 stars Vintage Simic
This book is primarily a selection of poems from Simic's books from Unending Blues (1986) through Jackstraws (1999) with 19 additional new poems.As such, it is an excellent volume to introduce Simic but scarce on new poems for his avid fans.

Simic's poems are interesting to analyze - so few traditional "poetic devices," so much reference to religion, philosophy and other tough issues, primarily in common-place language.Simic, however, makes this work in his surrealistic way.My definition of "work?" - poems that one reads and rereads by choice.

An example:
"... The way she appears in a window hours later
To set the empty bowl
And spoon on the table,
And then exits
So that the day may pass
And the night may fall

Into the empty bowl,
Empty room, empty house, ..."

Simic takes the commonplace words and actions and deftly turns them into an unusual perspective, in this case, day and night being dependent upon "her" actions.Or night falling into something i.e. empty bowl.There are occasional misteps where I as reader find a phrase jarring, unable to slide into Simic's image.There are poems I enjoy, but don't ask me what it means.But most of all there are poems that confront real religious and philosophical issues as they present themselves in life - without any easy or trite answers.

4-0 out of 5 stars More, but not more... if that makes sense.
Charles Simic, The Voice at 3:00 A.M. (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 2003)

Simic's latest collection is something of a shortcut, a "new and selected poems" that has all the cache of a band releasing "greatest hits, volume 3" with one new track to entice the fans to buy it. If you've already got the bulk of the books Simic released between 1986 (Unending Blues) and 1999 (Jackstraws), the question is whether you want to shell out the cash for the small section of new poems. My advice, wait for the paperback.

For those who have not yet been introduced to the wonder that is Charles Simic, however, this is a great way to get an overview of his recent work. Probably best read in tandem with Selected Early Poems (or his best early volume, Return to a Place Lit by a Glass of Milk) for the full treatment. Either way, though, Simic is one of the finest American writers extant, and getting to know him will not only enrich your life, but give you something cool to talk about at boring society parties. Highly recommended. ****

4-0 out of 5 stars "History licked the corners of its bloody mouth."
One appeal of Simic's work is its deceptive ease:it appears lighter than it is, like Bob Dylan's lyrics although not as funny.To some extent Simic does this to clear room for his famed moralism, since these days the only way that people permit you to go holy on them is if you sucker them into it.He doesn't delve into deep shades of grey - lines like "And then there were no more/As we stood dazed in the burning city,/But, of course, they didn't film that" (in "Cameo Appearance") don't force readers to question their own beliefs.But such lines are moving, because he doesn't use his lived experience as a plea for sympathy; instead, he means to use his experience to broaden ours.

The fact that Simic's verse is somewhat rhythmless (but for the line breaks) means that when a failure occurs, you don't just roll past it.For instance, "Evening Chess" ("The Black Queen raised high/In my father's angry hand") clunks because it exists entirely in meanings we've possessed before tackling the poem; all Simic does is bring them to the surface, where they dissolve as soon as we try to make something out of them.On the other hand, this style allows him to build intensity with little strain on the reader, as in "Street of Jewelers", where colour and light briskly accumulate in the back of the mind - it's not until the poem ends that you notice the radiance.

The strongest section of this likely to be award-winning collection comes from "The Book of Gods and Devils", worth looking into in its own right although the key poems are here, foremost among them "Shelley", which is up with "The Lesson" at the summit of his work.In "Shelley", the narrator reads "mellifluous verses" while describing New York street scenes, finally revealing that for him, reading and observance are both forms of short-term relief from isolation.The selections from "Hotel Insomnia" and "A Wedding in Hell", slightly more obvious in their darkness ("Paradise Motel" begins:"Millions were dead; everybody was innocent"), are also of high standard.Thereafter there's a perceptible decline - some of his idiosyncrasies are muted, although the language in poems like "Night Picnic" ("There was the sky, starless and vast-/Home of every one of our dark thoughts") is its own reward.Still, it's a relief that the new poems - especially "Little Night Music" ("I could think of nothing to say./The music over, the night cold") and "The Museum Opens at Midnight" - stand up to the rest of the book.In terms of usefulness, one of the best poetry collections of the year. ... Read more

8. Selected Early Poems
by Charles Simic
Paperback: 264 Pages (2000-12-11)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$16.18
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Asin: 0807614831
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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When this selection of Charles Simic's work first appeared, it was hailed as "easily the best volume of poetry published in 1985....[Simic] is one of the wisest poets of his generation, and one of the best." (The Georgia Review) For this new edition of his selected poems, Simic has added twenty-eight poems and extensively revised others, making this the most complete collection available of his early work. In the spare, haunting vision of these poems, the familiar takes on a disturbing, often sinister, presence. A fork "resembles a bird's foot / Worn around the cannibal's neck" and a bird's chirp is "Like a match flickering / In a new grave." Life's horrors--violence, hunger, poverty, illness--lurk unnervingly in the background. And yet, despite the horror, a sense of wonder pervades these poems, transforming the ordinary world into a mysterious place of unknowable forces. Classic displays of the economy and grace of Simic's work, these poems occupy an established place in American poetry. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Introduction to Simic
This book is a great introduction to the poetry of Charles Simic. The poems represent his imagistic, surrealist style and his concise use of language. Poems suck as "Watch Repair" & "Fork" create thought provoking representations for the reader. If you are a fan of Simic's collections Jackstraws and The World Doesn't End, this collection is definitely for you.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great poems, collection a bit lacking
This book is all right if you're just discovering Simic, but if you're adding it to a collection it's not an essential buy. Despite the dust jacket's promise it doesn't deliver in the way of new or revised material,and the choice of poems mirrors too much the older (and cheaper)compilation, Selected Poems. Most of Simic's books are available and veryaffordable in paperback, and once you get to know him, you'll want themall. The "greatest hits" package here is optional.

5-0 out of 5 stars An essential volume of poems
Anyone who is interested in the breadth, playfulness and imagistic intensity of contemporary American poetry needs to buy this book. Simic's early poems--surreal and yet rooted many times in the commonalities of life--are sparseyet full of surprises.These poems, when I was anundergrad, changed the way I THOUGHT about poetry, what it couldaccomplish. Nearly devoid of literary pretentions, Simic's poetry isnonetheless artful, using slang, riddles and the like to construct hisworlds-within-poems.Simic later wrote a book called Dimestore Alchemy onthe work of Joseph Cornell and I couldn't think of a better descriptionthan 'dimestore alchemy' for his own poetry. Few books are essentials, butthis is one of them, a certified desert-island book for poets and lovers ofpoetry. ... Read more

9. Selected Poems, 1963-1983
by Charles Simic
 Paperback: 229 Pages (1990-04)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$48.65
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Asin: 0807612405
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, this collection represents whatmany experts feel is Charles Simic's finest work. This expanded edition contains33 revisions of many of the original collection's poems. Simic's imagery and meaning rely heavily and beautifully online breaks and their rhythm. His phrases create their own separate thoughtsbetween line breaks, easing the music of the poem into a slower,contemplative pace despite the topic: "Because I am the bullet / that hasgone through everyone already / I thought of you long before you thought ofme" (from "What the White Had to Say"). Simic lends clarity to that whichis otherwise complex. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars A bizarre, delightful collection
Simic's best work somehow manages to be both surrealistic and lucid.Expressionistic black & white takes on the Old Country (E. Europe in the years following the second world war) and the New World (the bustling,booming Chicago Simic emigrated to as a teenager).The poems on silverwarealone worth the price of the book.Strange and wonderful.

5-0 out of 5 stars elegant poet of the intellect & surrealwalks on the earth
Read any book by the touching, spare, philosophical, and simple poet Charles Simic.Read this if you hate poetry.read this if you love poetry. Today most poets are mired in the concrete.Masters of decorative language, they don't seem to have a point. Simic is a must read for poets, and all writers. He mentions his clothes often.This for me represents his respect for the common, the low. yet he tastefully reaches for the ether at the same time.He is one of the best of our century! However his intellect is huge but doesn't bother us with pretentious references to other poems or pseudo-intellectual babbling.He is surreal in a sense of mood.He says a lot with a few words. ... Read more

10. A Fly in the Soup: Memoirs (Poets on Poetry)
by Charles Simic
Paperback: 200 Pages (2003-01-06)
list price: US$17.95 -- used & new: US$15.95
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Asin: 0472089099
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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A Fly in the Soup is a book of memoirs. Charles Simic was born in 1938 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, and spent his childhood in a city bombed by the Nazis in 1941 and then by the Allies in 1944. He was jailed with his mother after the war for trying to flee what was by then a communist country. He managed to emigrate in 1953, first to Paris and then a year later to the United States. He lived in New York, completed his high school education in Chicago and began writing in English and publishing his first poems in 1959 when he was twenty-one years old.
The book collects pieces written on such diverse subjects as memory, history, the bombing of cities, cuisine, philosophy, life in the army, movies, and growing up in wartime. Arranged chronologically, they make an unusual memoir of exile and refugee life, a collage of stories, anecdotes, meditations and poetic fragments from one of the most barbaric periods of the last century. This is a story of a young man whose travel agents were Hitler and Stalin--the autobiography of the early years of one of the most respected contemporary American poets.
Charles Simic has published more than sixty books in the United States and abroad for which he has received a number of prestigious literary awards including the Pulitzer Prize for poetry and the MacArthur Fellowship.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

3-0 out of 5 stars Good, but lacks his usual brilliance.
Charles Simic, A Fly in the Soup (University of Michigan, 2000)

Charles Simic is a fantastic poet; a case could be made that he is, in fact, the best poet working in the English language today. Pick up any random book of Simic's poetry and you'll be holding a wonder; you might even be holding a masterpiece. He's written enough of them. Which is why I find it so surprising that, while one can't call A Fly in the Soup a mediocre book, it seems to be lacking some sort of spark that turns Simic from a gifted poet into one of the planet's best.

A collection of essays previously published in various spots collected and made into a memoir, A Fly in the Soup presents some truly harrowing pictures; Charles Simic did not, to say the least, have an easy life. Those who cringe at the present spate of "poor, poor pitiful me" memoirs will probably find this one a breath of fresh air, as Simic, even in moments of deepest sorrow, looks back on these situations with wry amusement and a touch of cynicism (his relation of an encounter at a writers' workshop with Daniel Hoffman-- who was flying one of the jets that bombed Belgrade during Simic's WWII childhood-- is itself worth reading this book for). The book is suffused with that same wryness, and while these events are not depicted through rose-colored lenses, they're not seen through the gunmetal grey of many recent memoirs, either; there's much here to like.

And were it any other author, really, I'd call this one of the best memoirs I'd seen in quite a while (not the best; Charles Burns' Black Hole takes that cake). And if I'm going to be fair about it, it really is. It's intellectually engaging, readable, and will at least keep you entertained.

What it is not, though, is great. I know the folly of looking at a great poet and expecting him to be a fantastic short story writer, or vice versa; Bukowski was a much better poet than short story writer, as much as my admitting that is going to destroy my cred. Raymond Carver is a brilliant prose stylist, but his poetry often leaves me banging my head against the nearest sharp metal object. The number of people who can do both with equal grace and talent is a handful, at best. So when I read this and see a great poet who is a good prose stylist, why do I feel so let down? Eh, I'm raising my review half a star on the general principle that I shouldn't let my expectations rule my impressions. *** ... Read more

11. The Renegade: Writings on Poetry and a Few Other Things
by Charles Simic
Paperback: 226 Pages (2009-04-01)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$11.90
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Asin: 0807615943
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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The fifteenth U.S. Poet Laureate collects his latest essays on subjects ranging from poetry to his childhood years in Belgrade.In these essays, Charles Simic delves into thelives and work of poets, novelists, artists, and playwrights, beginning with his own experiencesbefore turning to those of Christopher Marlowe,Odilon Redon, W. S. Sebald, Louise Glück, andmany more. Throughout he celebrates the renegade spirit, whether it inspires a rogue ant to depart from his prescribed path or a poet to writeunfashionably honest verse.

Simicbrings the personal worlds of each writer andartist to life, discussing their friends, homes, influences, and the rooms that shaped theiroutlooks. His portraits urge the reader toregard writers and artists as protean, falliblemen and women rather than as immutable icons,and he reveals the key turning points in thecreative lives of his subjects, noting theircreative failures as often as he does theirsuccesses. He is unflinching in his analyses ofeven the most beloved cultural figures,following his enthralling praises withunforgettable, piercing critiques.

3 illustrations ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Rare and stimulating
Simic is not only a fine poet but also a very knowledgable, inspiring and insightful critic. ... Read more

12. Wonderful Words, Silent Truth: Essays on Poetry and a Memoir (Poets on Poetry)
by Charles Simic
Paperback: 144 Pages (1990-06-15)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$9.23
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Asin: 0472064215
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Included in this collection of essays is an autobiographical sketch of the poet's early years in Yugoslavia during World War II
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Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Honest, touching, humerous and informative
Charles Simic is a poet whose work has many levels;mythic,funny,philosophical. He travels in cities, in vast landscapes and through the cosmos. This book of essays and memoires exemplifies his easy manner which takes the reader on a journey through poetry and through the formative moments in Simic's life. The tone is conversational, deeply moving in parts, helped along by Simic's wit and his way of seeing the world. He has the capacity to make us wonder at the universe while simulatneously questioning the foolishness of humanity in history. This book is well worth reading for those who enjoy his poetry, those who write poetry and those of us who share his passioninate love of life ... Read more

13. Hotel Insomnia
by Charles Simic
Paperback: 80 Pages (1992-11-11)
list price: US$13.00 -- used & new: US$4.66
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Asin: 0156421828
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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In this volume, Simic fills the wee hours of his poetry with angels and pigs, riddles and cemeteries. His is a rich, haunted world of East European memory and american present-a world of his own creation, one always full of luminous surprise. “Simic writes so simply that his words fall like drops of water, but they ripple outward to evoke an ominous and numinous world” (Washington Post Book World).
... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars The devil's own snack food.
Charles Simic, Hotel Insomnia (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1992)

If I ever meet Charles Simic, I am likely to ask that one question every author really hates: "Where do you get your ideas?"

It's not that the overarching, grand design of Simic's work is incomprehensible or anything. In fact, in Hotel Insomnia, if anything, it's more noticeable than ever; for once, the book's title really does tie into almost everything in the book. Insomnia is a major theme in these poems, and it runs throughout like a bad infomercial on late-night TV in the background, bleary-eyed, beer in hand, in its boxer shorts, and yet strangely appealing.

No, it's not that. It's in the details, those damnable little snippets of poetry that make Charles Simic's poems little gems of wide-eyed brilliance:

"There's a painting over the cash register:
Of a stiff Quaker couple dressed in black.
They hold a cat under each arm.
One is a tiger, the other is Siamese.
The eyes are closed because it's very late,
And because cats see better with their eyes closed."
(--"Caged Fortuneteller")

This is a guy who knows something about you. No matter who you are. And in every book he releases, he will reveal a little of it, until you're paranoid, hiding in a darkened room, peeking out of the blinds, unable to sleep, just waiting for Charles Simic to come knocking on your door, because you're convinced he's coming for you.

And isn't that what it's all about? **** ½

5-0 out of 5 stars He is a wonderful Poet
I first read poetry of Charles Simic in the New Yorker. He is a great poet and evokes moods with very well-turned phrases and perfectly chosen words. I loved this book and admire this poet to an extent that cannot be put into words. ... Read more

14. Jackstraws: Poems
by Charles Simic
Paperback: 96 Pages (2000-03-07)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$0.01
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Asin: 0156010984
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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In this new collection of sixty-two poems Charles Simic paints exquisite and shattering word pictures that lend meaning to a chaotic world populated by insects, bridal veils, pallbearers, TV sets, parrots, and a finely detailed dragonfly. Suffused with hope yet unafraid to mock his own credulity, Simic's searing metaphors unite the solemn with the absurd. His raindrops listen to each other fall and collect memories; his wildflowers are drunk with kissing the red-hot breezes; and his God is a Mr. Know-it-all, a wheeler-dealer, a wire-puller. In this latest lyrical gathering, Simic continues to startle his fans with the powerful and surprising images that are his trademark-slangy images of the ethereal, fantastic visions of the everyday, foreign scenes of the all-American-and moments full of humor and full of heartache.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

4-0 out of 5 stars Fine stuff.
Charles Simic, Jackstraws (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1999)

I've written so many glowing words about Charles Simic in the past year that anything more would really be superfluous (cf. reviews of The World Doesn't End, Return to a Place Lit by a Glass of Milk, Classic Ballroom Dances, Charon's Cosmology, etc. etc.). All I can really say about Jackstraws is "another worthy entry in the corpus of Mr. Simic, which is already stacked full of quality material." Every new book from Charles Simic is an unalloyed pleasure to read, full of little unexpected pleasures and twists of phrase that cannot help but delight the reader. If you're not familiar with the work of Mr. Simic, I cannot but urge you to become so at your earliest opportunity; the man should be a living legend. As it is, he's just another poet trying to eke out a living, and that's a crime. ****

5-0 out of 5 stars modernism of careful experimentation
Charles Simic's surreal writing is fun, humorous, intellectually interesting, but still menacing.Each poem is like a cage with a rabid guinea pig inside, & you can't stop yourself from reaching in & petting it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Very DEEP
My favorite poem is Vacant Rooms and I'm using it for my poetry memorization project this spring in my Intro to Poetry class. I am impressed by the depth, which Simic uses so easily and bluntly. Upon first readings of these poems it may seem that is simply what the title states, but when you think about it slowly and read each line and visualize the concepts and connect each image with the next, it opens the flood gates for the imagination to wonder and get lost in a thousand interpretations that bring enjoyment and fun to the poem. Even if the poem is sad, it is an excellent feeling to comprehend the power behind the words.
It truly is a beautiful collection, I only hope that one day I can write as good as him and create that depth behind the words to make them stand out among the rest.

Having only read *looking for trouble* and *frightening toys* i clearly had the disadvantage of reading a selection of his best poems before this collection of new poems. I bought the book last week and was expecting the usual simplistic beauty (unlike Hemingway,unlike Kafka,contrary to popular reviews)and that is exactly what i got, and indeed loved all over again. Yes, repatition is evident, but, i might add, still effective, strangely imaginative, and still one of the only reasons to continue reading and buying poetry, even in its modern decline. Most of todays poetry is bland and boring; most new poets are lifeless idiots trapped in bizzare romantasims with the world....*Jackstraws* is one of the few breaths that keeps this dying medium breathing.

5-0 out of 5 stars Still going strong
For the first time my friend Charlie is beginning to get a few negative reviews. I'm here to dispell the rumors that he has lost his touch. This book, as well as his last, Walking the Black Cat, is evidence that he isstill one of the best. The main contention has been that the typical Simicsurprises are no longer surprising, that he has repeated himself one toomany times. There isn't a single poet who isn't guilty of this poeticcrime, and there are times that Charlie does come very close to soundinglike the Charlie of old. Yet I still think the ultimate judgement comes notin a comparative judgement of a poem or group of poems against the entirebody of work (though it is useful to do so), but whether single poems standon their own. This is, of course, hard to do given the poet's intentions togroup poems into the volumes that he/she makes available to the public--wecan only judge by what we are given. But poems like "Live at ClubRevolution" are fresh because of the odd combination of images Charlieis known for. The address is similar, the reference to a nightclub as asetting for an historical event is also something we've come across inCharlie's poems before. But once the poem begins it bears little to noresemblance to any other. And this is interesting to note considering thatonce, quite a few years ago, Charlie wrote another poem with the title"Jackstraws," which bears no resemblance to the title poem ofthis volume. Yet the game itself the title comes from illustrates athematic interest that is ongoing; that one stumbles upon a scene of suchquiet and danger--whether the danger of upsetting a pile of sticksdelicately placed on a table in a game much like Jenga, or the real dangerof those war scenes Charlie has become so famous for remembering--issomething that must be visited over and over, yet never without some kindof subversion. To deceive oneself into a feeling of safety, joy, fear--thisis the aim of his language. ... Read more

15. The Horse Has Six Legs: An Anthology of Serbian Poetry
by Charles Simic
Paperback: 272 Pages (2010-04-27)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$7.20
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Asin: 1555975577
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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When The Horse Has Six Legs was first published in 1992, as war and hatred tore through the Balkans, this anthology of Serbian poetry became a landmark for some of the most compelling poetry in the contemporary world. “The ironies, in 1993, of giving an award to Serbian poets will be evident to many,” Carolyn Kizer wrote in her judge’s citation for the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award. “But the glory of great poetry is that it transcends its time and these agonized events to enter the universal realm of art.”

Editor and translator Charles Simic has now updated and expanded this anthology for new readers in the twenty-first century. Simic has brought together an extraordinary range of Serbian poets, from the oral tradition of folk song to the great postwar poets, including Vasko Popa, Ivan V. Lalic, and Novica Tadic, and the new generation of poets writing now. With wild imagination, mordant humor, and vivid surrealism, Serbian poetry is rich, haunted, and intensely relevant to the world we inhabit.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Lovely.
Charles Simic, ed., The Horse Has Six Legs: An Anthology of Serbian Poetry (Graywolf, 1992)

This is one of the better anthologies of verse I've come across in quite a while. Simic, a native Serbian himself, has an obvious love for his subject and, one would assume, a greater knowledge of history and cultural context than a translator going in fresh with this material. As any translator worth his salt will tell you, these qualities are the difference between a translation with falls flat and one which breathes; word choice is everything.

The "name" here (to Western audiences, anyway) is Milorad Pavic, whose novel The Dictionary of the Khazars was a literary sensation in the late eighties, translated into many languages and finding the bestseller lists of a number of western countries. But once you've been drawn by the name, linger over the rest of the work here. The whole collection shines with a sophisticated grasp of the surrealist ethic which much of modern American poetry is lacking; many of the poets here, such as Vasco Popa and Ivan Lalic, would stand at the same level of achievement as Eshleman, Willis, or Stroffolino on the short shelf of sacred books, where modern surrealism is concerned.

If there is a quibble to be had with the book, it's that it's simply too short. Simic does explain this in his foreword (he only included the translations he's most satisfied with as a poet as well as a translator). Thus, we have to be happy with what we have and hope he releases a volume 2 some time in the future. *** ½

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful collection of poetry!
There isn't a better collection of poetry with magical realism than this one! I marvel at Charles Simic's ability to translate such complicated and beautiful poetry. I love all of the poems in this book, especially Desanka Maksimovic's "Bloody Fable," Vasko Popa's "Proud Error," and "There Smoke, Sooty Smoke," from a collection of Women's Songs. Do you love poetry with surreal and dark messages? Then I suggest that you get this incredible book!

3-0 out of 5 stars Only Lacking More...
Simic has selected a fine array of poetry for this volume. The only problem is that the volume suffers from lack of ambition. There are simply not enough poets represented nor poems representative of Serbian writing.Otherwise, I loved this book, but I felt it needed to be more expansive.

Overall this is an excellent overview. Particularly I note the poet IvanLalic (and the exquisite poem "Love in July") and also the poetNovica Tadic who employs rather disturbing and disconnected imagery in hispoetry. Most interesting (and well known) is the poem entitled"Jesus." Brief but thought provoking.

Deserving of praise,this volume, as stated, needs to be of greater length. ... Read more

16. The Unemployed Fortune-Teller: Essays and Memoirs (Poets on Poetry)
by Charles Simic
Paperback: 144 Pages (1995-02-01)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$5.00
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Asin: 0472065696
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Provides glimpses into the origins of Charles Simic's poetry
... Read more

17. Charles Simic: Essays on the Poetry (Under Discussion)
Paperback: 240 Pages (2008-03-26)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$19.95
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Asin: 0472032909
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Charles Simic, recently named Poet Laureate of the United States, is one of America's most popular---and enigmatic---contemporary poets. Set apart from his contemporaries by a particularly inclusive and worldly vision, his is a poetic voice singular in our time for its quality of empathy, for its imagination-enriched logic, and for its deep and abiding clarity. In Charles Simic: Essays on the Poetry the perspectives of a range of critics, poets, and scholars (including James Atlas, William Matthews, Liam Rector, Helen Vendler and Diane Wakoski, among others) are brought together in an attempt to offer an appraisal of his art.

The book traces the critical reception to Simic’s poetry, beginning with the earliest responses, and reveals a constantly changing image of the relationship between the poet and his work. Essays and book reviews from sometimes radically different points of view address the body of Simic’s verse and attempt to delineate the aesthetic from which his art emerges. Charles Simic: Essays on the Poetry concludes with an extended interview and a selection of Simic’s autobiographical writings.

Books by Charles Simic available from the University of Michigan Press:

  • Memory Piano
  • The Metaphysician in the Dark
  • A Fly in the Soup: Memoirs
  • Orphan Factory: Essays and Memoirs
  • The Unemployed Fortune-Teller: Essays and Memoirs
  • Wonderful Words, Silent Truth: Essays on Poetry and a Memoir
  • The Uncertain Certainty: Interviews, Essays, and Notes on Poetry

Bruce Weigl is author of thirteen collections of poetry, most recently Declension in the Village of Chung Luong, editor of three collections of critical essays, and translator of three books of poetry from the Vietnamese and two from the Romanian. In 2006 he was awarded the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry.

A volume in the Under Discussion series.

... Read more

18. Dime-Store Alchemy: The Art of Joseph Cornell (New York Review Books Classics)
by Charles Simic
Hardcover: 116 Pages (2006-09-12)
list price: US$18.95 -- used & new: US$10.68
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Asin: 1590171705
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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In Dime-Store Alchemy Charles Simic, one of contemporary America’s most idiosyncratic, engaging, and skillful poets, reflects on the art of the homegrown American surrealist Joseph Cornell. In a work that is in various degrees biography, criticism, and sheer poetry, Simic tells of Cornell’s life in Utopia Parkway, Queens and of how he loved to wander the streets of New York hunting for overlooked and unexpected odds and ends. He illuminates the hermetic mysteries of Cornell’s beautiful boxes, now in major museums throughout the world—works in which private obsessions were alchemically transformed into enduring works of art. Simic also sees Cornell’s work as exemplifying a distinctively American aesthetic, freed of slavish dependency on tradition, open to the world, improvisatory, at once homemade and universal, modest and teasing and profound. Full of unexpected riches, Dime-Store Alchemy is both an entrancing meditation on the nature of art and a perfect introduction to a major American artist by one of his peers, a book that can be perused at length or dipped into at leisure again and again. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

2-0 out of 5 stars Woops!Only 8 photos on this book.
After reading the reviews, i was eager to receive this, especially as I'm only beginning my journey into the mind of Joseph Cornell.I was disappointed.The book is tiny - there are photos of only eight of Cornell's works and the prose, although nice, really isn't all that enlightening or inspiring, giving me nary a "hmm" factor.

It's a lovely little book for what it is, which isn't much. If like me, you're just discovering Cornell, this is not the place to start.I wish I knew the best place to point you, but I'm looking for that myself.

5-0 out of 5 stars If you loved the Cornell show at the Peaboday- Essex
Then you will love this book of short essays and responses to Joseph Cornell's work by our Poet Laureate.It's amll and without a dustjacket, quite elegant and easy to take with you to read when you find yourself with a few spare minutes.

5-0 out of 5 stars Dime Store Alchemy: The Art of Joseph Cornell
This elegant book reminded me of "Einstien's Dreams."The book is about the genius of imagination.Cornell's provincial life gave him the opportunity to observe his world closely and let it expand into his art.The writing by the poet Simic is a piece ofart in itself.

5-0 out of 5 stars Delicious!!
Reading Dime-Store Alchemy is a fine way to get to know Joseph Cornell's work (and of course Charles Simic's).Simic uses a writing style which pieces together different elements of Cornell's favorite authors and poets, beautifully reflecting the montage operation created by Cornell himself.As Simic ambiguously reveals aspects of Cornell's life in New York City, the reader finds him/herself on the same search for an understanding of beauty that the artist spent his entire life investigating.Don't miss it! ... Read more

19. The Book of Gods and Devils
by Charles Simic
Paperback: 80 Pages (1990-11-30)
list price: US$10.95 -- used & new: US$6.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0156135469
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Loneliness, loss, sadness, and mystery mark this wonderful volume of forty-nine poems by Charles Simic, winner of the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and praised as “one of the truly imaginative writers of our time” by the Los Angeles Times.
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Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars Another great piece of Simic.
Charles Simic, The Book of Gods and Devils (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1990)

Another fine piece of work from Mr. Simic, but this one seems the smallest of cuts below his best efforts (The World Doesn't End, Return to a Place Lit by a Glass of Milk, et al). Hard to explain why this is; I want to say it's more in the confessional mode than most of his work, but if this is the case, it's by an infinitesimal amount and would not otherwise be worth noting. Problem is, I can't put my finger on anything else.

Still, when Simic is in the zone, his writing eclipses most others who have worked in the medium in the twentieth century. Take, for example, pieces from the brilliant "The Great War":

"...You never saw anything as beautiful
As those clay regiments; I used to lie on the floor
For hours, staring them in the eyes.
I remember them staring back at me in wonder.

How strange they must have felt
Standing stiffly at attention
Before a large, incomprehending creature
With a moustache made of milk...."

Definitely another worthwhile contribution to the canon, but there are better places for the neophyte to begin. ****

5-0 out of 5 stars An Inspiration
The Book of Gods and Devils is one of my favorite books of poetry... It's absolutely fabulous!It has a touch of melancholy, humor, to be sure, and wonderful imagery... we dance with religious icons shamelessly! Wonderful! ... Read more

20. Orphan Factory: Essays and Memoirs (Poets on Poetry)
by Charles Simic
Paperback: 128 Pages (1998-01-15)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$4.97
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0472066633
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Orphan Factory collects writing by Charles Simic, hailed as one of our finest contemporary poets. A native of Yugoslavia who emigrated to America in his teens, Simic believes that tragedy, comedy, and paradox are the commonplace experiences of an exile's life. In this delightful collection of journal entries, autobiographical essays, criticism, and prose poetry, the poet reveals once again his fondness for odd juxtapositions that reveal hidden and unexpected connections.
In the title essay, Simic--whom critic Helen Vendler has called "the best political poet on the American scene"--reflects on his family's experiences of their war-torn homeland during World War II and the frightening familiarity of the recent tragic events in the region. The collection has many hilarious moments, such as Simic's memoir of his first days in New York City as a young poet and painter, impressions from his poet's notebook, and first lines from his unwritten books. The book also contains reflections on dreams, insomnia, and the night sky, and considers the work of poets Jane Kenyon and Ingeborg Bachmann, and of visual artists Saul Steinberg and Holly Wright.
Charles Simic's most recent poetry collections are Walking the Black Cat ( 1996), nominated for the National Book Award, and Hotel Insomnia. He has won numerous prizes, including the Pulitzer Prize, Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellowships, and a P.E.N. Translation Prize.
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