UW News

March 2, 2018

Celebrated poet Charles Simic to give UW’s 54th Theodore Roethke Poetry Reading April 12

UW News

Charles Simic

Charles Simic

Charles Simic, one of America’s most celebrated poets, will give the 2018 Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Reading on April 12. Simic will be the 54th poet to appear in the series since its inception in 1964.

As a Roethke reader, Simic continues a UW tradition that includes such renowned poets as Robert Penn Warren, Carolyn Kizer, Elizabeth Bishop, Seamus Heaney and the UW’s own faculty member David Wagoner and alumnus Richard Hugo.

The annual reading honors the acclaimed poet who from 1947 to 1963 was a professor in the UW English Department. Roethke taught a generation of post-war poets, including Wagoner, Hugo, Tess Gallagher and James Wright.

Simic, a poet and essayist, was born in Yugoslavia in 1938, immigrated to the United States in 1954 and published his first poem at 21 in 1959. Since 1967 he has published 20 books of his own poetry, including “New and Selected Poems (1962-2012)” (2013) and “The Lunatic” (2015). He has also published seven books of essays, a memoir and many volumes of translations of Serbian, Croatian and Slovenian poetry.

He is the recipient of many prizes and awards, most notably the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1990 for his collection “The World Doesn’t End,” and was a finalist for the prize in 1986 and 1987. He has also received the Griffin Prize, a MacArthur Fellowship and the Wallace Stevens Award, all prestigious honors for poets. He served in 2007-2008 as the Poet Laureate of the United States. He is a professor emeritus of English at the University of New Hampshire, where he has taught since 1973.

“Simic is often described as a surrealist, and to the extent surrealism depends on phantasmagoria, the shoe may fit,” wrote The New York Times in 2003.

“But if so, he’s a surrealist with a purpose: The disconcerting shifts and sinister imagery that characterize his work are always intended to suggest — however obliquely — the existential questions that trouble our day-to-day lives.”

The 2018 Roethke Memorial Poetry Reading will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 12, in room 120 of Kane Hall, with a reception to follow. The reading is free and open to the public.


For more information, contact Karla Tofte of the English Department at ktofte@uw.edu.