Thursday, July 1, 2010

W.S. Merwin Named Poet Laureate

Today the Library of Congress announced that W.S. Merwin will be the 2010–2011 U.S. poet laureate. The two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and National Book Award recipient is our nation's 17th poet laureate and succeeds Kay Ryan.

Born in New York City, William Stanley Merwin grew up in Union City, New Jersey, and Scranton, Pennsylvania. He attended Princeton and studied with R. P. Blackmur and John Berryman. Mr. Merwin is quoted by the Poetry Foundation as saying that "it was not until I had received a scholarship and gone away to the university that I began to read poetry steadily and try incessantly, and with abiding desperation, to write it."

W. S. Merwin, who is 82, has lived in Hawaii since 1976. He moved there to study Zen Buddhism and eventually settled on the island of Maui, where he began to restore the forest surrounding his home, a former pineapple plantation on the northeast coast.