Read New and Selected Poems: 1962-2012 by Charles Simic Online


“It takes just one glimpse of Charles Simic’s work to establish that he is a master, ruler of his own eccentric kingdom of jittery syntax and signature insight.” -Los Angeles TimesFor over fifty years, Charles Simic has been widely celebrated for his brilliant and innovative poetic imagery, his sardonic wit, and a voice all his own. He has been awarded nearly every major l“It takes just one glimpse of Charles Simic’s work to establish that he is a master, ruler of his own eccentric kingdom of jittery syntax and signature insight.” -Los Angeles TimesFor over fifty years, Charles Simic has been widely celebrated for his brilliant and innovative poetic imagery, his sardonic wit, and a voice all his own. He has been awarded nearly every major literary prize for his poetry, including a Pulitzer and a MacArthur grant, in addition to serving as the poet laureate of the United States in 2007 and 2008.In this new volume, he distills his life’s work, combining for the first time the best of his early poems with his later works—including nearly three dozen revisions—along with seventeen new, never-before-published poems. Simic’s body of work draws inspiration from a range of topics, from the inscrutability of ordinary life to American blues, from folktales to marriage and war.Consistently exciting and unexpected, the nearly four hundred poems in this volume represent the best of one of America’s most distinguished and original poets....

Title : New and Selected Poems: 1962-2012
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ISBN : 9780547928289
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 384 Pages
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New and Selected Poems: 1962-2012 Reviews

  • Ken
    2018-12-23 13:55

    For layman readers like me, Charles Simic's short poems are accessible yet thought-provoking. His images run the gamut, from the ordinary (ants, cockroaches, chairs, windows) to the abstract (war, age, death, grief). At times, his war-torn background (he hails from Belgrade) informs his poems. Here he attacks despots and their lust for power, there he questions God and His silence. In one poem, "What the Gypsies Told My Grandmother While She Was Still a Young Girl," this bluntness is all too evident: "War, illness and famine will make you their favorite grandchild./ You'll be like a blind person watching a silent movie./ You'll chop onions and pieces o your heart into the same hot skillet./ Your children will sleep in a suitcase tied with a rope."And yet Simic is capable of more cheerful imagery, too. There's the much anthologized "Watermelons," which has a white chicken/red wheelbarrow effect to it:Green BuddhasOn the fruit stand.We eat the smileAnd spit out the teeth.In other poems, you find some wonderful images and brilliant juxtaposition of words. Here's "Summer Morning," an early effort that speaks to anyone who has awakened in the country:I love to stay in bedAll morning,Covers thrown off, naked,Eyes closed, listening.Outside they are openingTheir primersIn the little schoolOf the cornfield.There's a smell of damp hay,Of horses, laziness,Summer sky and eternal life.I know all the dark placesWhere the sun hasn't reached yet,Where the last cricketHas just hushed; anthillsWhere it sounds like it's raining;Slumbering spiders spinning wedding dresses.I pass over the farmhousesWhere the little mouths open to suck,Barnyards where a man, naked to the waist,Washes his face and shoulders with a hose,Where the dishes begin to rattle in the kitchen.The good tree with its voiceOf a mountain streamKnows my steps.It, too, hushes.I stop and listen:Somewhere close byA stone cracks a knuckle,Another rolls over in its sleep.I hear a butterfly stirringInside a caterpillar,I hear the dust talkingOf last night's storm.Farther ahead, someoneEven more silentPasses over the grassWithout bending it.And all of a sudden!In the midst of that quiet,It seems possibleTo live simply on this earth.It's a beautiful thing, remembering the smell of damp hay, horses, and laziness. More beautiful still? The dream that it's still possible "To live simply on this earth." Many of Simic's poems provide just that simplicity. Others, simplicity in sheep's clothing. Either way, and despite the unevenness expected in any volume this large, the trip is worth the fare. I'm glad I ordered this book and got to know Charles Simic and his world, some of it familiar and much of it foreign. It does what good poetry should do -- disturb and delight.MAY 2017 UPDATE:Amazing that, 125 pages into this, despite many poems sounding familiar, I'm only now realizing I've read his collected works before--in 2013! The mind's a terrible thing to waste, but rereading brings it back, I suppose, so have at it again I will and I am!

  • David
    2019-01-12 12:52

    (WARNING! Even by my standards this ‘review’ holds extra high levels of rambling pretentiousness, and could result in intense irritation and/or extreme drowsiness.)Charles Simic is a big deal. He’s a Pullitzer prize winner, poet laureate, editor, celebrated translator, etc. If a poet can be said to have a career, it would be hard to see how much higher he could go.And yet his poetry, in a sense, contradicts this. His poems are always the opposite of grandiosity and inflation. They celebrate smallness, austere ordinariness (even if this ordinariness is a spring board for gothic flights of fancy), fragility, flies, spiders, knives, forks.Formally, they don’t seek to impress. They give the illusion of simplicity. Simic doesn’t seek to portray himself as super-sensitive, or super-intelligent, or as having any other super-powers that a poet might seek to have. They work quietly. They’re approachable. They hold mystery without giving a sense that the reader will never be clever enough to fully understand. They aspire towards prose, and have a conversational tone. They’re self-effacing. They’re user-friendly. He uses humour brilliantly, and often reminded me of Woody Allen.His poems feel like balancing scales with the profane on one side and the sacred on the other. On the Sacred side he often makes reference to philosophers, abstract philosophical ideas, saints, angels, etc. On the profane side of the scales he usually adds reference to food, drink, sensual pleasures; and also a depiction of a kind of austere, basic domesticity. He reminds me of J G Ballard in the sense that, throughout his work, there are a small set of images that constantly reappear, and these images seem to stem from traumatic wartime images from his childhood.Although there is a strong sense of melancholy in the poems, they are tremendously life-affirming. At least, he takes great pleasure in the world!What I love most about his work is the gothic/surrealist sensibility. He reminds me of Leonora Carrington or Louise Bourgois or Edward Gorey. Anyway, he loves insects, flies, spiders. Humble, fragile, vulnerable, dark things. On the other side, strength, power, inflation, grandiosity – strong and powerful things are always a signifier of violent, torturing, totalitarian oppression, and are to be guarded against. For example, he would never celebrate powerful masculinity in a D.H Lawrentian way. It would always be represented as a kind of fascist threat. He loves ordinary basic things like knives and forks, but his work is in no way related to a kind of materialist New-Objectivity-way of looking at things. When he uses these day to day things, they are always a spring board to fantastic dark flights of fancy. It’s hard for me to read any of these poems and not think of Bruegel and Bosch. He has that same combination of grotesque gothic humour and love of very basic depictions of humanity. Which sounds pretentious, but what I mean is he portrays humanity the same way that Brueghel does as a very fallible, vulnerable, fragile thing. We are in no sense an elevated or heroic species.

  • Robin Friedman
    2018-12-30 14:45

    Charles Simic's Poems Of Fifty YearsAs a child, Charles Simic (b. 1938) immigrated to the United States with his family from war-torn Europe and did not speak English until the age of 15. He published his first volume of poetry in 1959 when he was 21. Since that time, Simic has won a large reputation and an enviable readership for an American poet. Among other honors, he has won the Pulitzer Prize, the MacArthur "Genius" Award, and the Wallace Stevens Award. From 2007-2008, Simic served as the poet laureate of the United States.In his new book, "New and Selected Poems: 1962 -- 2012" Simic gathers together nearly 400 poems beginning with a selection of early works and concluding with 17 new poems. The selections cover 13 previously published volumes. With its size and comprehensiveness, the volume offers and outstanding overview of Simic's poetry. Readers new to Simic who persevere will get an understanding of his work. Readers familiar with the poet will find their favorites together with much that is new.Even though his work cannot readily be categorized, critical reviews over the years and the perceptive reader reviews here on Amazon offer an unusually consistent portrayal of what Simic is about. The Amazon reviews and Poetry Magazine's discussion of Simic (the source of the quotes which follow) helped confirm my own reading of this volume. Some of Simic's poems offer "a surreal metaphysical bent" while others offer "grimly realistic portraits of violence and despair". They frequently "challenge the dividing line between the ordinary and extraordinary". As one critic has aptly written: "Simic's work has frequently been described by a handful of adjectives: words like 'inimitable', 'surreal', and 'nightmarish' have followed him around in countless reviews and articles". Another critic has said that Simic "draws on the dark satire of Central Europe, the sensual rhapsody of Latin America, and the fraught juxtapositions of French Surrealism to create a style like nothing else in American literature. Yet Mr. Simic's verse remains recognizably American -- not just in its grainy hard-boiled textures, straight out of 1940's film noir, but in the very confidence of its eclecticism."Although there are a number of extended works in this volume, most of the poems are short. They tend to be written in short, unrhymed lines and in stanzas. The poems move frequently in a quiet, unassuming tone with an often unexpected and jarring figure at the end. A number of poems have an overtly historical or political theme, with the early poems especially emphasizing Simic's traumatic early life in Europe while the latter poems tend to transfer the situation to current world affairs and to the United States. Many of the poems have country settings as Simic has lived in rural New England for many years. For me, the more characteristic poems showed scenes of lonely and harsh city life with settings in both crowded and deserted streets ("Tattooed City"), seedy hotels, ("Hotel Insomnia", "Night Clerk in a Roach Hotel") or small, frequently shabby establishments ("Used Clothing Store", "In the Junk Store", "Used Book Store"). The poems have a feeling of wandering, grit, and a search for meaning that is indeed shared with some of the noir and other fiction I have been reading of late.The poems I tended to notice were those of an expressly theological or philosophical turn. Simic is a nonbeliever whose poems are informed by a search for God and by a transcendental turn. Poems such as "The Absentee Landlord" "Master of Disguises" and "Puppet Maker" are meditations upon an absent God. As do some other people of nontraditional theologies, Simic shows a strong interest in mysticism, reflected most immediately in poems with titles such as "The Writings of the Mystics", "De Occulta Philosophia", "Mystic Life", "Mystics", "St. Thomas Aquinas", "The Lives of the Alchemists", "The Tragic Sense of Life" and others.Philosophers, philosophical issues, and philosophical discussions with others in cafes and on street corners abound in these pages. The most immediately striking of these poems to me was "The Friends of Heraclitus". The poem begins with an announcement that "Your friend has died, with whom/ You roamed the streets,/At all hours, talking philosophy." The surviving companion must go it alone, arguing with himself about the "subject of appearances:/The world we see in our heads/And the world we see daily,/ So difficult to tell apart/ When grief and sorrow bow us over." As the lonely individual wanders the streets, the poet asks: "What was that fragment of Heraclitus/You were trying to remember/As you stepped on the butcher's cat?" Then the poem pivots to conclude with the philosopher's "sudden terror and exhilaration/At the sight of a girl/Dressed up for a night of dancing/Speeding by on roller skates."Although some readers may disagree, I don't see a major shifts in themes or style from the earliest to the most recent of these poems. The works display a consistency of approach over time. The poems still manage to remain, on the whole, cohesive, fresh, and unusual in their scope.I enjoyed the opportunity to take a broad look at Simic's poetry over his life through this volume. The book can be read from cover to cover, as in my reading, or, as with any work consisting of a large number of poems, browsed selectively and repeatedly over time. Robin Friedman

  • Grady
    2019-01-17 14:47

    His Poetic Eminence, Charles SimicDusan "Charles" Simić (born 9 May 1938) is a Serbian-American poet and was co-poetry editor of the Paris Review. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1990 for The World Doesn't End, and was a finalist of the Pulitzer Prize in 1986 for Selected Poems, 1963-1983 and in 1987 for Unending Blues. He was appointed the fifteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 2007. From Wikipedia we learn, `Simic was born in Belgrade, Serbia then part of Yugoslavia. Growing up as a child in war-torn Europe shaped much of his world-view, Simic states. In an interview from 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." Simic immigrated to the United States with his family in 1954 when he was sixteen. He grew up in Chicago and received his B.A. from New York University. He is professor emeritus of American literature and creative writing at the University of New Hampshire and lives on the shore of Bow Lake in Strafford, New Hampshire.'So though we all know the poetry of Charles Simic, this new book is the most comprehensive representation of his work to date. Ranging form his earliest poems to his current works this book takes the reader on a journey of Simic's peculiar and endearing view of life and human folly and sadness and serves to prove why he is so celebrated. But as usual his poems speak for themselves:SOLITUDEThere now, where the first crumbFalls form the tableYou think no one hears itAs it hits the floor.But somewhere alreadyThe ants are putting onTheir Quaker hatsAnd setting out to visit you.DECEMBERIt snowsand still the derelictsgocarrying sandwich boards -one proclaimingthe end of the worldthe otherthe rates of a local barbershop.WARThe trembling finger of a womanGoes down the list of casualtiesOn the evening of the first snow.The house is cold and the list is long.All our names are included.IN A DARK HOUSEOne night, as I was dropping off to sleep,I saw a strip of light under a doorI had never noticed was there before,And both feared and wantedTo go over and knock on it softly.In a dark house, where a strip of lightUnder a door I didn't know existedAppeared and disappeared, as if theyHa turned off the light and lay awakeLike me waiting for what comes next.This last poem is the final insertion in this collection and as such it opens so many possibilities, knowing that Simic's mind is fertile and will continue to compose such eloquent and simple poems. Grady Harp

  • M.
    2018-12-31 17:59

    I was familiar with only a few poems by Simic when I began to work through New and Selected Poems, reading front to back, back to front, and sometimes in the middle. Most of the unrhymed poems themselves are not long or particularly difficult to read, but the recurring themes---war, childhood loneliness, adult loneliness, darkening city evenings, shabby apartments---are often painful to read about.There are bits of happiness, too---a fragment of natural beauty, jazz, a lover, a book of poetry. In fact, one of my favorite lines, from "Romantic Sonnet," is this one: "Happiness, you are the bright red lining/Of the dark winter coat/Grief wears inside out." That expresses the feeling of reading Simic.There is a fine essay on Simic's poetry, entitled " A World of Foreboding," in Soul Says, Helen Vendler's collection of essays on contemporary poetry.M. Feldman

  • Joan Colby
    2019-01-11 15:55

    Simic is rightly renowned for the originality of his imagery and the often surreal content of his poetry. He has had wide recognition which is well deserved. Some of his poems such as “Fork” should be considered classics.

  • Laura
    2018-12-26 15:51

    Dang I love this poetry.

  • Jimmy
    2019-01-12 19:01

    Sometimes bizarre, sometimes simple, always interesting.

  • Parrish Lantern
    2019-01-10 11:52

    Charles Simic was born on May 9th 1938 in Belgrade, in what was then Yugoslavia, (now part of Serbia). As a child growing up in war torn Europe, he experienced the trauma of being one of the millions of displaced whilst both the “Germans and the Allies took turns to bomb him”. This obviously shaped much of his world view, leading him to joke in interviews that “Stalin and Hitler were his travel agents” and that in addition to his own tale of bad luck, he was around to hear plenty of others and is still amazed by the vileness and stupidity witnessed in his life. In 1954, at the age of sixteen he emigrated with his mother and brother, joining his father who was living in Chicago, in the United States where Simic attended high school and began to take a serious interest in poetry, although he admits that the reason he began exploring the art form was to meet girls. Charles Simic published his first poetry in 1959 at the age of twenty-one whilst attending the University of Chicago, but was drafted in 1961 into the U.S Army. By 1966 he had earned his B.A. from New York University, with his first full length collection of poetry What the Grass Says, published the following year.By the early seventies he was beginning to make a name for himself, with both his own poetry and the translations of important Yugoslavian poets, attracting critical acclaim. Since then he has won numerous awards and was chosen to receive Academy Fellowship in 1998, also fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts, and was elected to The American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1995. In 2000 he was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, more recently, in 2007, he received the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets and he was the recipient of the 2011 Frost Medal, presented annually for "lifetime achievement in poetry”. Also in 2007 Charles Simic was appointed the fifteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, of which the Librarian of Congress James H. Billington stated:"The range of Charles Simic' s imagination is evident in his stunning and unusual imagery. He handles language with the skill of a master craftsman, yet his poems are easily accessible, often meditative and surprising. He has given us a rich body of highly organized poetry with shades of darkness and flashes of ironic humour."He also received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1990 for The World Doesn't End, and was a finalist of the Pulitzer Prize in 1986 for Selected Poems 1963-1983 and in 1987 for Unending Blues. He is professor emeritus of American literature and creative writing at the University of New Hampshire , where he has taught since 1973.Charles Simic is one of those writers I was more aware of than knew, for example I knew of him as editor of the Paris Review, and over the years I've read bits of his poetry, but I had no understanding of his prolific work as a translator, editor and essayist, or that he has translated the work of French, Serbian, Croatian, Macedonian and Slovenian poets, including Tomaz Salamun and Vasko Popa. Although I was aware of him I couldn't have strung together anything more than a threads worth of information. So when this collection Charles Simic ~ New and Selected Poems{1962–2012} came up, here was my chance to learn more about a writer who seems to stride across the American literary world of the last fifty years, commenting on the state of poetry, still contributing poetry and prose to The New York Review of Books and in 2007, a judge of the Griffin Poetry Prize. Someone who a writer for the Harvard Review said of:"There are few poets writing in America today who share his lavish appetite for the bizarre, his inexhaustible repertoire of indelible characters and gestures ... Simic is perhaps our most disquieting muse."This anthology covers a span fifty years and close to four hundred poems, distilling Simic’s life’s work combining poetry from his earliest writing through to his later work, featuring seventeen new, never before published poems and around thirty revisions. Tracing the path of this writer from a newly arrived immigrant through to the heartlands of America, on the way tracing it’s history through the blues & jazz, it’s folktales and urban myths. Charles Simic’s tale is that of America, not the one defined by the Madison Avenue, but by those individuals hollering on street corners, or praying knelt at the back of an empty church for just one more night, it’s that moment one second away from madness, when the lens focuses, shifts and the light refracts onto a new strange tableaux, before restoring itself to the same sidewalk, on the same street in the same town, USA. This is a collection of poetry by one of America’s most celebrated poets, spanning over thirty collections and offering the reader the opportunity of experiencing the full range of this poets oeuvre and the chance to retrace the career of one of the most prolific and yet unique voices in contemporary literature.Paradise MotelMillions were dead; everybody was innocent. I stayed in my room. The President Spoke of war as of a magic love potion. My eyes were opened in astonishment. In a mirror my face appeared to me Like a twice-cancelled postage stamp.I lived well, but life was awful. there were so many soldiers that day, So many refugees crowding the roads. Naturally, they all vanished With a touch of the hand. History licked the corners of its bloody mouth.On the pay channel, a man and a woman Were trading hungry kisses and tearing off Each other's clothes while I looked on With the sound off and the room dark Except for the screen where the color Had too much red in it, too much pink.

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    2019-01-05 13:40

    I was vaguely aware of Simic as a poet, although I'm not sure I could rattle off any of his lines off the top of my head, so I was happy to take a look at this volume of new and selected poems from NetGalley. The book contains almost four hundred pages of poems selected from various past publications - Selected Early Poems, Unending Blues, The World Doesn't End, The Book of Gods and Devils, Hotel Insomnia, A Wedding in Hell, Walking the Black Cat, Jackstraws, Night Picnic: Poems, My Noiseless Entourage, That Little Something, Master of Disguises, The Voice at 3:00 A.M.: Selected Late and New Poems, as well as a selection of new poems. As the subtitle states, these span five decades as well, which is quite the poetic career. Simic was born in Serbia but the poems originate in English, although sometimes his sense of being an outsider comes through.To get a sense of these poems, I'd like to start at the end. Something he said in one of the new poems struck me as being fairly descriptive of the themes of his poems and poetic outlook in general. This is the last stanza in "Things Need Me:"Dead alarm clock, empty birdcage, piano I never play,I'll be your waiter tonightReady to take your order,And you'll be my distinguished dinner guests,Each one with a story to tell.Throughout his poems, he seems to imagine the possibilities of what objects had experienced, the potential for story in the people he encounters, and reflecting on events that touched his life in some way. One powerful poem had his birth set within the feelings and emotions of the beginning of World War II.One thing I always wonder about anthologies or "selected works of X" is what is being left out? How is something chosen for inclusion? Ever since I fell in love with a Teasdale poem that was not included even in her "complete works," I've read poetry volumes with a critical eye. Whether or not it was intentional, I noticed a lot of flies, and a lot of libraries, in the poems that were included.My favorites were Late Arrival, Filthy Landscape (about a meadow), Eternity's Orphans, In the Library, Evening Talk (reminded me of a friend), and My Secret Identity Is (a tiny tiny two line poem, three if you count the title.)from "In the Library:"The great secret liesOn some shelf Miss Jones Passes every day on her rounds.She's very tall, so she keepsHer head tipped as if listening.The books are whispering.I hear nothing, but she does.

  • Kelly
    2019-01-07 18:46

    The truth is dark under your eyelids.What are you going to do about it?The birds are silent; there's no one to ask.All day long you'll squint at the gray sky.When the wind blows you'll shiver like straw.A meek little lamb you grew your woolTill they came after you with huge shears.Flies hovered over open mouth,Then they, too, flew off like the leaves,The bare branches reached after them in vain. Winter coming. Like the last heroic soldierOf a defeated army, you'll stay at your post,Head bared to the first snow flake.Till a neighbor comes to yell at you,You're crazier than the weather, Charlie

  • James
    2019-01-01 16:40

    Simic's work seems even stronger collected together. The wonderful, quotidian strangeness of his poems shines and will not dim or dull simply because of the length of this selected poems. This is a testament to the strength and integrity of each poem. I've given this four stars instead of five (which the poetry deserves) because of the layout: I cannot stand that each poem does not begin its own page; the compactness of most of Simic's poems deserve this attention.

  • Patti K
    2019-01-04 18:37

    This large selection of poems by Simic portrays his often morose, fantastical metaphorsof war and injustice. Some are dream-like. Almost all are arresting. A short poemcalled My Secret Identity Is The room is empty, And the window is opendemonstrates his evocative style. There are eighteen new poems that deal with agingand the query of what happens next?

  • John Tessitore
    2019-01-07 15:41

    There is no great variety in this fifty year retrospective. Simic never really changes the focus or shape of his verse. But he doesn't really need to. He's a poet of bright characters and sharp characterizations, a story teller in three to five stanzas. With a wise, humane voice and a light touch with even the darkest subject matter, he writes like the kind of person I'd like to be.

  • Rebecca Askew
    2019-01-19 17:44

    This book is a plethora of fantastic poetry. Simic's images are extremely evocative and vivid. He balances surrealism with realism like a yoga master. This was a large collection spanning his whole career, and I tried to make it last as long as possible.I definitely recommend this book.

  • Karen Douglass
    2019-01-09 12:58

    Simic's poems challenge me. As with any large collection, not all of these poems "please" me, but very many do offer insights and shared experience in language that is fresh and unique to Simic. A treasured book.

  • Hannah Jane
    2019-01-20 13:55

    Favorites:From the poem, Fork: "This strange thing must have crept right out of hell. It resembles a bird's foot worn around the cannibal's neck." From the poem, Stone: "I am happy to be a stone... It must be cool and quiet even though a cow steps on it full weight."

  • Paul
    2019-01-03 15:46

    I can't believe I read a 300+ page book of poems, but I'm glad I did. This was an enjoyable collection from an author I was unfamiliar with. Pretty sure one of his books will be on one of my bookshelves soon.

  • John
    2018-12-27 12:55

    Watermelonsby Charles SimicGreen BuddhasOn the fruit stand.We eat the smileAnd spit out the teeth.

  • Robert
    2019-01-11 16:33

    POETRYEach poem demands several readings -- so far my favorite is The Butcher. Dogs abound. As does the absence of sound.

  • Edward Moore
    2019-01-03 12:57

    Very interesting. Non-native English writers. The poetry has their home sensibilities filtered and sculpted through English. I like Simic's spare verse and short poems. It is my style of writing.

  • Barefoot Danger
    2019-01-01 15:32