TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 24
OKLAHOMA CITY — When it comes to making a mark on the literary world, it’s difficult to top becoming the nation’s official poet laureate. However, earning a Pulitzer Prize for poetry might come pretty close.
A guest coming to Oklahoma City University March 31 and April 1 did both. Charles Simic will be giving a poetry reading for the public and a workshop for regional high school teachers when he visits the university.
“We are extremely honored to have one of the greatest writers in the country on our campus,” said Harbour Winn, director of OCU’s Center for Interpersonal Studies through Film and Literature. “We are also pleased that Mr. Simic can share his art not only with those on our campus, but also with teachers and the general public.”
Teachers from 25 high schools will participate in a three-hour workshop with Simic. The next day, more than 200 high school students will be on campus for the state spring conferences of the Oklahoma Council of Teachers of English and the Oklahoma Writing Conferences.
Simic will give a public workshop at 10 a.m. and a public reading of some of his works at 8 p.m. April 1 in the Kerr McGee Auditorium of the Meinders School of Business. He will sign copies of his books after each event. The business school is located at McKinley Avenue and N.W. 27th Street.
Simic was born in Yugoslavia and was greatly influenced by the events of World War II. He moved to Paris with his mother when he was 15, and they joined his father in New York a year later. The family moved to Oak Park, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, where he graduated from the same high school as Ernest Hemingway.
Simic worked at the Chicago Sun Times newspaper while attending college at the University of Chicago. His college education was put on hold when he was drafted into the U.S. Army in the 1960s, but Simic returned to school after he served his military time and earned his bachelor’s degree from New York University. Early in his career Simic wrote and translated poetry and worked as an editorial assistant for a photography magazine.
Simic won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1990. In 2006 he joined a list that includes Robert Frost, Conrad Aiken, William Stafford and Robert Pinsky — the position of U.S. Poet Laureate.
Simic has been a U.S. citizen since 1971. He lives in Strafford, N.H.
The Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry serves as the nation's official “lightning rod for the poetic impulse of Americans,” according to the Library of Congress. During their terms, the laureates seek to increase a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry throughout the nation.
The poets are appointed annually by the Librarian of Congress and serve from October to May. The librarian consults with former appointees, the current laureate and poetry critics to determine the successor.
Simic is the fourth poet laureate OCU will have brought to the area in the 11 years of its Thatcher Hoffman Smith Poetry Series. The others were Pinsky, Ted Kooser and Billy Collins.
For additional information about the public events at OCU call Winn at (405) 208-5472 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.