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New and Selected Poems: 1962-2012 by [Simic, Charles]
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4.6 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"[New and Selected] offers readers the chance to experience and reassess one of the more unique voices in contemporary literature. . . Wandering the tangled byways of [Simic’s] imagination, we discover in our own workaday streets a phantasmagoria of the ordinary. . . Playful, sly [and] thrilling."—Washington Post

From the Inside Flap

For 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.

Product Details

  • File Size: 790 KB
  • Print Length: 383 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (March 26, 2013)
  • Publication Date: March 26, 2013
  • Sold by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008LQ237I
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #739,337 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jim Tenuto VINE VOICE on March 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
You cannot read a man's life's work quickly. Nor should you tear through 343 of poetry like a techno-thriller. I didn't and I would recommend that you don't as well, because Charles Simic's NEW AND SELECTED POEMS (1962-2012) deserves to be savored, patiently and thoroughly.

Simic, a Pulitzer Prize winner, was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia and lived his formative years in war ravaged Europe. He has been quoted as saying that "My travel agents were Hitler and Stalin." Like Joseph Conrad, English was not his first language but his language of choice to produce literature.

The poems have extraordinary range making it difficult to pigeonhole Simic as any "type" of poet. His powerful poems are sexually charged, sweetly innocent, decidedly urban and bucolic. His life experiences include World War II, a stint in the U.S. Army, and stints in both Chicago, the city of big shoulders, and New York City. From down-and-out, soot-blackened tenements to the stump of a tree where his grandmother killed chickens, he never puts a foot wrong. In "Prodigy" he balances the mundane learning of chess against the horrors of war, especially the last desperate days.

In "Concerning My Neighbors, the Hittites" he is nearly whimsical:

"They are leaving behind
All the silver spoons
Found inside their throats at birth,
A hand they bit because it fed them,
Two rats from a ship that is still sinking,
A collection of various split hairs,
The leaf they turned over too late."

"The Chicken Without a Head" puts one in mind of William Blake.

His point of view is refreshing and original. From "Note Slipped Under a Door":

"I saw a high window struck blind
By the late afternoon sunlight.
Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Dusan "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:

There now, where the first crumb
Falls form the table
You think no one hears it
As it hits the floor.

But somewhere already
The ants are putting on
Their Quaker hats
And setting out to visit you.
Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If you want a review describing the life of Charles Simic, by all means, read all the other ones.

This is not it. This review is to make you consider not why to buy the book but why to buy into Simic.

Simic's work as both an editor and as a poet has been heralded since.... well, before I was born. Fifty years of poetry is nothing to sniff at or around. A cursory glance at some of his poems reveal a man innately grounded into his perception of reality. That does not mean there are no oscillations. On the contrary, his wry wit and childlike enthusiasm for unseen details make his work possibly more surreal than anything else.

I refuse to use examples you do not have access to, so let us examine the excerpts reprinted above. Universally, the minimalist language has been lauded. It feels almost Hamsen-esque, yet contains powerful currents for deeper analysis. "Crazy About Her Shrimp" reads as a lustful, hedonistic voyage. Simplistic, juvenile language retains the perverted, honest lust . Yet alternate, closer readings turn the illusion of happiness into the desperate reality of illusory manners, shrimp higher on the food chain than sex or nudity. "Unmade Beds" follows a similar path. Initially extolling the virtue of lovemaking, the sullied underbelly of the poem remains the transient nature of both sex and filth. The star of your own smut film, does temporary happiness displace the reality of ones scenario? All at once the reader is wrapped in the sheets, banging a headboard, and letting the dust settle on their lips.

Less is more, truly. I cannot recommend buying this as something to plow through in one night or even a week. But as a book of poetry for late night or momentary meditation, you can't do much better.
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