Charles Simic and his writing


Some of Simic’s best-known works challenge the dividing line between the ordinary and extraordinary. He animates and gives substance to inanimate objects, discerning the strangeness in household items as ordinary as a knife or a spoon. Robert Shaw wrote in the New Republic that the most striking perception of the author’s early poems was that “inanimate objects pursue a life of their own and present, at times, a dark parody of human existence.” Childhood experiences of war, poverty, and hunger also lie behind a number of poems. In the Georgia Review, Peter Stitt claimed that Simic’s most persistent concern “is with the effect of cruel political structures upon ordinary human life….The world of Simic’s poems is frightening, mysterious, hostile, dangerous.” However, Stitt noted, Simic tempers this perception of horror with gallows humor and an ironic self-awareness: “Even the most somber poems … exhibit a liveliness of style and imagination that seems to re-create, before our eyes, the possibility of light upon the earth. Perhaps a better way of expressing this would be to say that Simic counters the darkness of political structures with the sanctifying light of art.”

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