Charles Simic was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, immigrated with his family to Chicago in 1954, and was educated at New York University. Although his native language was Serbian, he began writing in English. Some of his work reflects the years he served in the U.S. Army (1961--63). He has been awarded a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, a Guggenheim Foundation grant, and a National Endowment for the Arts award. "My poetry always had surrealistic tendencies, which were discouraged a great deal in the '50's," the poet said, but such tendencies were applauded in the 1970s and his reputation consequently flourished. His poems are about obsessive fears and often depict a world that resembles the animism of primitive thought. His work has affinities with that of Mark Strand and has in its turn produced several imitators. Simic was appointed the fifteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 2007
Mark Strand was born on April 11, 1934 in Summerside on Prince Edward Island in Canada. Since his father's job resulted in many transfers, he spent his childhood in Cleveland, Halifax, Montreal, New York and Philadelphia and his teenage years in Colombia, Mexico and Peru. He received a bachelor's degree at Antioch College in Ohio in 1957, a bachelor of fine arts in painting from Yale University School of Art and Architecture in 1959, and a master of fine arts from the Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1962. He studied 19th-century Italian poetry in Florence on a Fulbright Grant from 1960-1961. His first poetry collection, Sleeping with One Eye Open, was published in 1964. His other works included Reasons for Moving, Darker, The Story of Our Lives, The Late Hour, A Continuous Life, Dark Harbor, and Collected Poems: Mark Strand. In 1990, he was named the fourth Poet Laureate of the United States. He received the Bollingen Prize for Poetry in 1993 and the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1999 for Blizzard of One. In 1980, he felt that he had reached an impasse and stopped writing poetry for several years. During that time, he wrote several children's books including The Planet of Lost Things and Mr. and Mrs. Baby. He also wrote books on the painters EdwardHopper and William Bailey, and a collection of critical essays entitled The Art of the Real. He died of liposarcoma on November 29, 2014 at the age of 80.