W. S. Merwin to Be Named Poet LaureateBy PATRICIA COHEN
W. S. Merwin acknowledges that his relatively reclusive life on a former pineapple plantation built atop a dormant volcano in Maui, Hawaii, will be disturbed by the Library of Congress’s announcement on Thursday naming him the country’s poet laureate.
W. S. Merwin at his home in Maui, Hawaii. He will be the nation’s 17th poet laureate.
W.S. Merwin at his home, a former pineapple plantation built atope a dormant volcano on the northeast coast of Maui.
“I do like a very quiet life,” Mr. Merwin said by telephone after learning of his appointment. “I can’t keep popping back and forth between here and Washington.” He said he does relish “being part of something much more public and talking too much,” however, and the job of the nation’s premier poet will enable him to do both.
Of course, no matter how many public appearances Mr. Merwin may ultimately make, for most people he speaks most eloquently through his verse.
At 82, Mr. Merwin is an undisputed master, having written more than 30 books of poetry, translation and prose over the course of six decades.
Mr. Merwin, who retains traces of the extravagant handsomeness of his youth, has won just about every major award an American poet can, among them two Pulitzer Prizes, for “The Shadow of Sirius” in 2009 and for “The Carrier of Ladders” in 1971; and the National Book Award in 2005 for “Migration: New and Selected Poems.”
William Stanley Merwin is one of a bumper crop of poets born in 1926 or 1927 that included A. R. Ammons, James Merrill, Robert Creeley, Allen Ginsberg, Frank O’Hara, James Wright and John Ashbery. What distinguishes his work from the other poets of his generation who were forging a new style in the wake of modernism, Mr. Gioia said, is how he “combined the intensity of English-language modernism with the expansive lyricism of Spanish-language modernism.”