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The Voice at 3:00 A.M.: Selected Late and New Poems
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The Voice at 3:00 A.M.: Selected Late and New Poems

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  623 ratings  ·  53 reviews
Charles Simic has been widely celebrated for his brilliant poetic imagery; his social, political, and moral alertness; his uncanny ability to make the ordinary extraordinary; and not least, the sardonic humor all his own. Gathering much of his material from the seemingly mundane minutiae of contemporary American culture, Simic matches meditations on spiritual concerns and ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published April 3rd 2006 by Mariner Books (first published 2003)
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'A poem is like a bank robbery: the idea is to get in, get their attention, get the money and get out.' - c.simic

The softness of this hotel bed
On which we made love
Demonstrates to me in an impressive manner
The superiority of capitalism.

At the mattress factory I imagine,
The employees are happy today.
It's Sunday and they are working
Extra hours, like us, for no pay.

Still, the way you open your legs
and reach for me with your hand
Makes me think of the Revolution,
Red banners, crowds c
I don't know. Maybe even 3 1/2 stars, and I realize this puts me in a distinct minority. The problem with Simic, at least for me, is that he doesn't wear well in a collection this long. This particularly collection is probably the length of 3 or 4 normal collections. I found, after about the half way point, that the whole surreal mix & match, with a killer curve ball as an end line, seemed like a formula. Once I felt this, the poems kind of blurred together, their individual distinctness for ...more
He deals in the sense of Heraclitus not being able to step into the same river twice. And of no man being an island and of all men being islands. And of any number of koans extolling the value of the present moment. Then back again to a twig brushing past Heraclitus's ankle, caught in the steady flow and getting harder to fix in the distance or in the mind's eye as eyesight and mind fail in perceptible gradations. And of there being nothing new under the sun.

So if you can quote these things, wh
i wanted to like these poems more than i did. i knew simic more for his translation work than his own, and the poems in this collection didn't quite do it for me. i didn't dislike any, and liked some, such as "The Lives of the Alchemists" and "Late September" and "My Father Attributed Immortality to Waiters." his palette just isn't to my taste: the christian images seem flat and something about the use and use and reuse of figures of the homeless and of beggars strikes me as more touristy than g ...more
The Voice at 3:00 A.M. is a good overview of Simic's poetry spanning from 1986 to 2003 when the book was released. But it does often feel like an overture, as though there is more substance in waiting elsewhere. Simic writes poetry that makes you think at questions that you are led to ask on your own, and confront reality in ways that you most likely hadn't considered before. A good deal of Simic's poetry deals with mortality and a sense of things that can't quite be put into words -- at least, ...more
I found this book of poetry, the first I ever read of Simic, at 18 years old, the year it was published. I consider it one of my favorite possessions, as though one could possess the words inside.

Simic is hands down, my most beloved poet.
I shouldn't have bought this. I should just buy each individual volume of Charles Simic's poetry. I love this, but I kick myself.
Robert Beveridge
Charles Simic, The Voice at 3:00 A.M. (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 2003)

Simic's latest collection is something of a shortcut, a "new and selected poems" that has all the cache of a band releasing "greatest hits, volume 3" with one new track to entice the fans to buy it. If you've already got the bulk of the books Simic released between 1986 (Unending Blues) and 1999 (Jackstraws), the question is whether you want to shell out the cash for the small section of new poems. My advice, wait for the pap
What I like best about Charles Simic’s poetry is how it leaves me cocking my head and knitting my brow. Hm.

This is only the second of his books that I have read… I chose it as a sort of introductory overview of his oeuvre. I marked an awful lot of gem-like lines in the section from Hotel Insomnia: “Happiness, you are the bright red lining/Of the dark winter coat/Grief wears inside out.” Love this almost image, and I am drawn to his pragmatism… “I believe in the soul;so far/It hasn’t made much d
Chloe Weber
It was pretty vague but well written. Hotel Insomnia was good, and several other creepy ones I liked, but I chose this book over another one because of the title- I was really interested in what that poem had to say- AAAaaand....nothing. It was probably eight words long and I was nonetheless disappointed. What the Gypsies Told my Grandmother When She was a Young Girl was also very good.
This was my introduction to Charles Simic and I enjoyed this collection.

However, this is a collection of "selected late and new poems". I think I'll go back and find a book of his poems designed to be together rather than this "sampling" from other books.

Overall, I find Simic's work both intriguing and accessable. There we some poems which were very powerful while others were simply too abstract. Luckily, the latter were the fewer - by far.

I have only recently regained an interest in poetry, aft
Charles Simic has always been one of my favorite poets. A surrealist of sorts whose work reflects bits and pieces of both Russell Edson and Max Jacobs. He has some powerful poems in this particular collection that reflect on his youthful experience in World War II.

Still and all, this collection lacked some of my very favorite pieces from Simic's work like "Fork" and "Watermelon." It was more serious in lacked some of the ironic humor I've appreciated in other work.

As Claudia says, "I
Gabriel Oak
A few poems here that I really liked, such as "The Clocks of the Dead." Simic specializes in surreal, short poems that make a turn in the last line or stanza. Certainly worth checking out.
I loved a few of these collected poems while others didn't move me at all. His poetry is an unusual combination of transcendent and accessible...
Jan 25, 2011 Josh rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
In truth, I can't really conceive of a finer, more complete primer on Simic's poetry-- this career-spanning anthology is nothing if not generous, a fine introduction to this wonderful but little-known (despite being a former U.S. Poet Laureate) poet. Simic's poems are prickly, compact, riddlesome-- they defy easy sentiment or quick scrutiny, and they often start off going in one direction and then take baffling left-turns. But I find them to be really fascinating in how they use an economy of la ...more

I'm just a storefront dentist
Extracting a blackened tooth at midnight.

I chewed on many bitter truths, Doc,
My patient says after he spits the blood out,

Still slumped over, gray-haired
And smelling of carrion just like me.

Of course, I may be the only one here,
And this is a mirror trick I'm performing.

Even the few small crumpled bills
He leaves on the way out, I don't believe in.

I may pluck them with a pair of wet pincers
And count them, and then I may not
I went through a love of Simic phase (but that's me and poets--I am a whore that way, wanting to eat them up whole and then getting a metaphoric stomachache). He's got a very powerful way with defamiliarization, taking normal situations and things and twisting them slightly to make them alien and strange. The reason I had to put him up for awhile was because I got too good at reading his idiosyncratic language and the words lost their power. I'm waiting to forget him again.
I didn't love all the poems in this book but there were a good handful that were pretty magical- they have this way of making me feel very still, like I'm remembering something. And then I don't want to make a move so I can stay inside of the moment of reading them. Even the really sad and melancholy poems were still smart and snappy. I liked the parts about leaves and birds and the sky and infinity and I liked his unexpected metaphors.
Terry Collins
I feel guilty for not liking this collection more ... I mean, Simic's a f'in PULITZER PRIZE winning poet, you know? And yet, I kept slinking around the edges in reading this book and it never did catch on fire for me. So, my feeble rating of three stars is NO reflection on his work - it's more of a personal opinion. Perhaps I'll revisit Simic again and this time, see what I missed this go-round.
Simic is a modern master. A writer of romantic, charmingly lewd at times, profoundly real yet upbeat short free-form poetry that goes back to the wellspring of desire and fetches jewels of imperfect memory. His work is accessible in a way that makes me wonder why he isn't more famous.
If poetry was money, this man would be president.
A strong collection, however, I found the poignancy conveyed in his essays to be lacking in his poetry. He has descriptions and observations, and the poetry is written quite well. At the same time the inclusion of Charles Simic himself so readily available and at ease with the reader in his essays is often absent in his poems.
This one wasn't as good, but it doesn't really stick to one particular theme.. it's just a collection of various poems from his other books, so it's nice if you want them all in one place. I think I should've just gotten the ones with the better poems in them since this was a bit of an exhaustive read overall.
Mark Nenadov
After not being very enamored with "My Noiseless Entourage", I decided to give Simic's work another chance. I enjoyed this one a bit more, but yet it was still a bit of a chore to get through it. I have difficulty relating to this poetry and while it is highly acclaimed, I'm not a fan.
John Pappas
Amazing. Simic has his finger on the pulse of the sinister lurking in and under the mundane. This book is a passport to the Eastern Europe of your dreams, if your dreams are shot in a room of a seedy film noir hotel or bar way past closing time. A must-read for poetry junkies.
Jun 16, 2010 Ed rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
Fire up the fires of poetry writing, throwing life on the pyre and catching the rising sparks in sheathes of words, enjoying my newfound soul on fire. The silken night writhes like a scarf on the windy neck of time. The pyre sparks, the sparks in a gyre.
I'm new to Simic, but am quickly becoming obsessed. This man never runs out of fresh and candid ways to say things. I find him challenging, emotionally, to read, but love him all the more for it. The downside: he stole the title to MY first book!
I was not expecting to find this book terribly appealing as I had read Walking the Black Cat and did not find it to accessible. However, I enjoyed it a great deal. I must be more appreciative of the surreal now.
Features poems that span from 1986 until 2oo3. This guy gets it. Always adds a twist to his work that keeps even an occasional poetry reader--glued to the page.There are no clunkers in this collection
Poems that alternate between humor, surrealism, sorrow and the utter joy of being. Simic's voice is simple, hard-hitting and intelligent. Love these poems and will always keep this book close by.
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Charles Simic (born Dušan Simić) is a Serbian-American poet and the 15th Poet Laureate of the United States. He is co-Poetry Editor of the Paris Review. Simic is the 2007 recipient of the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets. This $100,000 (US) prize recognizes outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry.
More about Charles Simic...
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“It was only the sea sounding weary
After so many lifetimes
Of pretending to be rushing off somewhere
And never getting anywhere.”
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