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Charles Simic Is Dead


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Charles Simic has influnced me. I won't paraphrase a TheGuardian article or Wikipedia entry1, but I'll highlight something expressed in the former to which I subscribe:

"A New York Times review from 1978 would note his gift for conveying 'a complex of perceptions and feelings' in just a few lines.

"'Of all the things ever said about poetry, the axiom that less is more has made the biggest and the most lasting impression on me,' Simic told Granta in 2013. 'I have written many short poems in my life, except written is not the right word to describe how they came into existence. Since it’s not possible to sit down and write an eight-line poem that’ll be vast for its size, these poems are assembled over a long period of time from words and images floating in my head.'"2

Amen. For me, it's not about the narrative, it's about the mood. If I want a story, a narrative, I'll watch Kubrick's classic adaptation of King's "The Shining." Now, there's a spectacular example of cinematic art, and what a narrative! But when I want a poem, I want a musical mood to be immersed in through language.

There may be those who knew Simic, who may step up and tell me that I don't know what I'm talking about--"That's not Simic!"--and it may be true. I have read only a few of his poems, and both were included in a tattered, old book in my library called "How to Read a Poem."3 One of them was "Empire of Dreams."

Had I been quicker on the draw, I might have tried to meet Simic, or Heaney, seeing that they were, at times, geographically accessible to me. But had I done that, what could I really have expected from them? Criticism? Should I have asked them if my poems are any good? Damn straight, they're good. What we have here at PMO are living poets whose poems are good, and for now I'm pleased to be a part of this collective of the living.


Flip your hair and flash your eyes
I know it makes you feel
good, move your body, real,
good, thrill them when they fantasize.

In Too Deep (Arthur Younger Remix)
Alex Dee Gladenko "Disco Guitar"


1. Charles Simic
2. Charles Simic, Pulitzer Prize Winning Poet Dies at 84
3. How to Read a Poem by Burton Raffel. New York: The New American Library; 1984.


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Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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David W. Parsley

I never met Charles Simic (though I did chat a few minutes with Josef Brodsky once - but I digress).  I did read a number of his poems when he was a "thing" back in the 80s and 90s.  Many of his poems are quite moving to me, lean yet expansive.  Thank you for this insightful tribute, Tony.  I'm sorry the poet is gone.

Hat Doffed,
- Dave

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I knew I had bought a book of Simic. So, I checked my library and found his collection of short poems in the book "The Lunatic". I like the imagery of the "The Flea". Most of the poems in this collection are short poems of reflections from a vantage point you never thought coming.

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"Words are not things, and yet they are not non-things either." - Ann Lauterbach

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