As poet laureate, W.S. Merwin plans to reach out to children
A writer who will remain nameless — he spoke privately — once told me that no first-rate poet would ever be named U.S. Poet Laureate: The job requires a politically nimble mediocrity, he said, someone well liked and good at P.R. I wonder what he would say now that W.S. Merwin –first rate by any standard — has been tapped for the post.
The 82-year-old poet, who lives in Hawaii, has been among the nation’s top tier since the 1950s, when his first book, A Mask for Janus, was published in the prestigious Yale Younger Poets Series. During the 1960s he became known for poetry in opposition to the Vietnam War. He’s published a collection of poetry every two-to-five years since 1952, as well as nonfiction books and plays.
Merwin is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, and he’s received the National Book Award, among many other honors. His most acclaimed works are The Lice (1967), The Carrier of Ladders (1970), Migration: New and Selected Poems (2005), which won the National Book Award, and The Shadow of Sirius (2008), which garnered his second Pulitzer.
Obviously, age has not dimmed Merwin’s creative energies. Here’s his poem “For the Anniversary of My Death,” from the 1993 collection, The Second Four Books of Poems. You can find many other Merwin poems at Poets.org and Poetryfoundation.org.
For the Anniversary of My Death
by W. S. Merwin
“public sessions.” NPR reports that he intends to promote poetry by holding “gatherings of children, and talking with children and with students of all ages.”