Orphan Factory

Essays and Memoirs
Charles Simic
Collects autobiographical and critical writing by one of our most gifted and uncategorizable poets


Orphan Factory collects writing by Charles Simic, hailed as one of our finest contemporary poets. A native of Yugoslavia who emigrated to America in his teens, Simic believes that tragedy, comedy, and paradox are the commonplace experiences of an exile's life. In this delightful collection of journal entries, autobiographical essays, criticism, and prose poetry, the poet reveals once again his fondness for odd juxtapositions that reveal hidden and unexpected connections.

In the title essay, Simic--whom critic Helen Vendler has called "the best political poet on the American scene"--reflects on his family's experiences of their war-torn homeland during World War II and the frightening familiarity of the recent tragic events in the region. The collection has many hilarious moments, such as Simic's memoir of his first days in New York City as a young poet and painter, impressions from his poet's notebook, and first lines from his unwritten books. The book also contains reflections on dreams, insomnia, and the night sky, and considers the work of poets Jane Kenyon and Ingeborg Bachmann, and of visual artists Saul Steinberg and Holly Wright.

Charles Simic's most recent poetry collections are Walking the Black Cat ( 1996), nominated for the National Book Award, and Hotel Insomnia. He has won numerous prizes, including the Pulitzer Prize, Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellowships, and a P.E.N. Translation Prize.

Praise / Awards

  • ". . . has numerous delights in store for all readers."
    --Richmond Times-Dispatch
  • ". . . an important collection, and although the contents seem to be quite diverse, they are unified by themes of exile and grief over the tragedies of a century that leave Simic not so much with millennial yearnings as with a need to call for people to wake up and find strategies for discerning the propagandistic uses of image and discourse from those that value individual difference and thought."
    --World Literature Today
  • "Simic certainly shows in his writing the literal meaning of his essay 'In Praise of Invective,' whose subtitle. . . reads, 'the tongue we use when we don't want nuance to get in the way.' That particular Simic tongue is alive and well, his vast store of maledictions liberally and winningly used in telling stories. But the Simic tongue is also full of nuance, as evidenced by his poetry, which offers much to ponder: Simic's early life in Belgrade, sneaking illegally into Austria with his mother in 1948, his feelings about Serbia and Croatia today, his beginning days in New York, sleepless nights, dreams, other poets, books he never completed. This one, thankfully, got finished. Read and feel encouraged."
    --Library Journal
  • ". . . Simic offers a mix of tragic, humorous, and thought-provoking essays."
    --Bloomsbury Review
  • "His observations are filled with wisdom and humor, and often irreverence . . . . [He] is always a pleasure."
    --Publishers Weekly

Product Details

  • 5-3/8 x 8.
  • 128pp.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 1998
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-06663-6

Add to Cart
  • $19.95 U.S.