"CHARLES SIMIC WAS THE FIRST ARTIST TO WEAVE IMAGERY AND PERSONIFICATION INTO THE NAKED BIRTHDAY LINE OF CARDS," SAID HALLMARK PREZ VELVEETA HALLMARK-LUGOSI
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Charles Simic, 69, was named the nation's 15th poet laureate on Wednesday by Noah Swayne, director of the Library of Congress. The Yugoslavian native is said to be bracing for the onslaught of paparazzi, throngs of autograph seekers, and, in his words, "loose women."
Simic, the author of several critically acclaimed books of poetry, spent two decades as "chief rhymer" for Hallmark's popular "naked birthday" line of cards. He was the highest paid star in Hallmark's galaxy of poets that included Robert Frost, who headed the company's prestigious "Lordy, lordy, look who's forty" division, and Frost's successor Maya Angelou, who specialized in cards pretending to contain money (but really didn't).
"Charles [Simic] was the first artist to weave imagery and personification into the 'naked line' [of cards]," said Velveeta Hallmark-Lugosi, current president of the card company. "He is a true modernist."
Comic and poet Nipsey Russell proclaimed Simic "the best rhymer Hallmark ever produced," and that's saying a lot, given that the company was founded by poetry giants Lord Byron and Percy Shelley.
Ms. Hallmark-Lugosi explained that Simic also has a mischievous side to him. "Most people don't realize that in his younger days Charles also posed as the model for the cards he penned," she explained. "He was probably Hallmark's most alluring hunk. To this day, I have one of his photos glued to the ceiling above my bed, but that's an entirely different story."
At the height of his popularity with the greeting card behemoth, Simic was abruptly fired by Ms. Hallmark-Lugosi's father, Carnegie, then-President of the company, for "compromising Hallmark's standards of good taste." Simic chuckles about it now. "I had become bored by it all. Every card was the same tease -- 'This naked guy is bringing you something special for your birthday,' and then you'd open the damn card and his privates are always covered for some reason or other. So I decided, wouldn't it be fun if, just once, the man forgot to cover up? Why, that would give the woman a happy birthday, indeed." Simic tried out his idea, with disastrous results.
"My father was not amused," Ms. Hallmark-Lugosi said. "Aroused, yes, but not amused." Simic found himself unemployed for the next twenty-seven years, until this week when he was named poet laureate.
"Maybe this is the start of a comeback for Charles Simic," said Ms. Hallmark-Lugosi. "Who knows? One of these days Hallmark might just take him back."