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Charles Simic

2008 US Poet Laureate

Charles Simic was born on May 9, 1938, in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, where he had a traumatic childhood during World War II. In 1954 he emigrated from Yugoslavia with his mother and brother to join his father in the United States. They lived in and around Chicago until 1958. His first poems were published in 1959, when he was twenty-one. In 1961 he was drafted into the U.S. Army, and in 1966 he earned his Bachelor's degree from New York University while working at night to cover the costs of tuition. His first full-length collection of poems, *What the Grass Says*, was published the following year. Since then he has published more than sixty books in the U.S. and abroad, twenty titles of his own poetry among them, including *That Little Something* (2008), *My Noiseless Entourage* (2005); *Selected Poems: 1963-2003* (2004), for which he received the 2005 International Griffin Poetry Prize; *The Voice at 3:00 AM: Selected Late and New Poems* (2003); *Night Picnic* (2001); *The Book of Gods and Devils* (2000); and *Jackstraws* (1999), which was named a Notable Book of the Year by *the New York Times*. His other books of poetry include *Walking the Black Cat* (1996), which was a finalist for the National Book Award; *A Wedding in Hell *(1994); *Hotel Insomnia* (1992); *The World Doesn't End: Prose Poems* (1990), for which he received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; *Selected Poems: 1963-1983* (1990); and *Unending Blues* (1986).