~ Poet: Charles Simic ~

Gray-Headed Schoolchildren by Charles Simic

Charles Simic has died. Word broke on Twitter a few hours ago, and I’ve been thinking about Simic’s impact as a poet and as a translator—I wouldn’t know Vasko Popa, Ivan Lalic or even the great Novica Tadic had Simic not introduced them to the Anglophone world.

I’m not sure that Simic’s interest in translation extended to videopoetry, however; I don’t believe he ever collaborated with a filmmaker. I found a few unofficial videos back in the early years of this site, and another search today turned up a couple more good ones. Gray-Headed Schoolchildren is a 2011 film by Tess Masero Brioso with voiceover by Victor Feldman, who also stars (along with Zach Donnelly). I’m torn about the soundtrack: Adagio for Strings is kind of a cliché at this point, but it’s also not a bad fit. Regardless, as someone getting on years myself, the poem and film hit me right in the feels.

The White Room by Charles Simic


An exceptionally interesting videopoem: “1 min photocopimation based on a poem by Charles Simic called The White Room. By Noush Anand, 2007,” says the note at YouTube. This is Anand’s only upload to YouTube. It’s been viewed all of 63 times — a travesty.

The video animates just the first two stanzas of Simic’s ten-stanza poem; read it in full at Poets.org.

Prodigy by Charles Simic

This is noteworthy in part because it aired on a major television network, but it’s also an effective poetry video, I think. It’s been up on YouTube for a while, so it’s probably safe to assume that ABC isn’t going to ask for it to be taken down.

My Insomnia and I by Charles Simic

Geoff Tarulli made this one. It’s kind of slow-moving, but maybe that’s the point.

Stone by Charles Simic

There’s a video of Simic reading this poem, but it’s not as interesting as the two videos included here. About the musical performance above I could gather nothing, though it appears from the one comment that it may have been uploaded by one of the performers. I love the interpretation of the poem as a Sufi teaching, though I’m not sure how Simic would feel about it.


Brian Watterson is the filmmaker here.

The Soup by Charles Simic

Poem by Charles Simic

Musical composition by Alden Jenks

Performed by the San Francisco Conservatory New Music Ensemble, conducted by Nicole Paiement, with mezzo-soprano Raeeka Shehabi Yaghmai

A brief peek into Yaghmai’s rehearsal with Jenks for the premiere performance of The Soup may be seen in this documentary about her from Bebin TV, starting at the 4:30 minute mark.