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'The Voice at 3 A.M.'

Act like you know the new poet laureate.

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Charles Simic's selection last week as the next poet laureate was a gift to folks who believe the honor should be awarded only to those with highbrow credentials: He's a poet of true stature, not a feel-good versifier. He won the Pulitzer in 1990 for the collection The World Doesn't End, but we recommend starting with his more recent selected poems, The Voice at 3:00 A.M. The title hints at the surreal terrain his work covers.

The Voice at 3 A.M.
By Charles Simic; Harcourt; $14.


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