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April 29, 2008
U.S. Poet Laureate Charles Simic To Give Swan Song Lecture at Library of Congress, May 8
Charles Simic will make the final appearance of his tenure as U.S. Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry when he presents a lecture on poetry translation at the Library of Congress on May 8.
Simic, who has served as Poet Laureate since August 2007, will start his lecture "The Difficult Art of Translation" at 6:45 p.m. on Thursday, May 8 in the Montpelier Room on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public; no tickets are needed.
The position of Poet Laureate is limited to a one or two-year term. Simic did not wish to be considered for a second year, as he wants to devote more time to the writing of poetry. Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said, "We are very sorry to say farewell to Charlie Simic, but deeply appreciate his service to the Library and the nation."
Simic said, "I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this past year. The best part of being Poet Laureate of the United States is working with the fine, dedicated and learned people at the Library. Of all of our venerable national institutions, this is one of the best."
Simic’s interest in languages began at an early age. A native of Yugoslavia, Simic was born May 9, 1938, but moved with his mother when he was 15 to Paris, where he studied English. A year later, they joined his father in New York. He has been a U.S. citizen for 37 years and has written almost 20 collections of poetry in English as well as 13 books of translations from Eastern European works and numerous essays and reviews. He has co-edited an extensive list of translations, and Simic’s own works have been widely translated.
In addition to his memoirs, titled "A Fly in the Soup" (2000), Simic has written essays, critical reviews and a biography on surrealist sculptor and artist Joseph Cornell, known for his collage boxes.
Simic’s most recent volumes of poetry include: "That Little Something: Poems" (2008), "My Noiseless Entourage" (2005) and "The Voice at 3:00 A.M." (2003).
Simic is professor emeritus of creative writing and literature at the University of New Hampshire, where he had taught for 34 years. In 2007, he received the Wallace Stevens Award for Mastery in the Art of Poetry. Simic won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1990 for his book of prose poems "The World Doesn’t End" (1989). In 2005 he won the Griffin Prize for "Selected Poems: 1963-2003." His 1996 collection "Walking the Black Cat" was a finalist for the National Book Award for Poetry. From 1984 to 1989, he held a MacArthur Fellowship.
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