–Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Harman Writer-in-Residence–
When Charles Simic was selected to be the Spring 2008 Harman Writer-in-Residence at Baruch College, no one at Baruch could have anticipated he would shortly be named 15th Poet Laureate of the U.S. Simic’s prominence will add luster to the Baruch community.
Kathleen Waldron, president of Baruch College, spoke for the entire Baruch community when she wrote the following words of congratulations and welcome to Simic. “On behalf of the Baruch College, its faculty, and 15,000 students, we congratulate you on this wonderful achievement and take great pride that you will be joining this College in Spring 2008 as the Harman Writer-in-Residence in its 10th anniversary year.”
Simic, a Yugoslavian-born immigrant who came to America at age 15, is known for his dark humor and surrealist images. In naming him to the post, James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress, called his work “both accessible and deep” and cited his “stunning and unusual imagery.”
Charles Simic’s first collection of poems, What the Grass Knows, was published in 1967. Since then, he has published 20 volumes of his own poetry in addition to numerous translations of French, Serbian, Croatian, Macedonian, and Slovenian poetry. He is also the author of several books of essays and editor of various anthologies, including the 1992 edition of The Best American Poetry.
The poet’s many honors and awards include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1995. Commenting on his selection as U.S. Poet Laureate, Simic said, “I am especially touched and honored because I am an immigrant boy who didn’t speak English until I was 15.”
Professor Roslyn Bernstein, director of the Harman Writer-in-Residence program, said of Simic’s selection, “It’s perfect timing to celebrate the first decade of the Harman Program. He’s been on our short list for years.” The Baruch community will have an opportunity to engage with the poet on Tuesday, March 18, when “A Reading and Conversation with Charles Simic” takes place in the College’s Newman Conference Center.
Students who want to study with the Harman Writer-in-Residence will need to follow the standard procedure for this program: submit a resume, writing samples, and two to three faculty references to Professor Bernstein. Bernstein notes that the selection process is wide open: “Some of the students are English majors; some aren’t. Some are honors students; others aren’t.”
A special 10th Anniversary Celebration is currently being planned for the Sidney Harman Writer-in-Residence program. All previous Harman Writers-in-Residence, as well as the approximately 200 students who studied with them over the last decade, have been invited back to the College. The event is scheduled for Wednesday, April 16, 2008, and promises to be a true gala.
The Sidney Harman Writer-in-Residence Visiting Professorship, funded by Sidney Harman (’39), brings distinguished writers to the Baruch College campus every year. Since the residency was inaugurated in the fall of 1998, Harman Writers-in-Residence have included poets Yehuda Amichai, Carol Muske-Dukes, Agha Shahid Ali, and April Bernard; fiction writers Paul Auster, Susan Choi, Anita Desai, Colum McCann, Francisco Goldman, Lorrie Moore, and John Edgar Wideman; playwrights Edward Albee and Tony Kushner; and nonfiction authors Philip Gourevitch, Jane Kramer, and Mark Kurlansky; and graphic novelist Ben Katchor.
The Harman Writers-in-Residence, situated in the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences, enriches the Baruch environment for both students and faculty. Dr. Harman’s decision to endow the program was based on his belief that “good writing is revelatory; it is not merely transference of fully formed material from brain to paper. Writing is an act of magical creation; writing is discovery.”