The Library Springfield-Greene County Library District Springfield, Missouri
Books & Authors

W.S. Merwin named new U.S. Poet Laureate

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner W.S. Merwin will be the 2010-11 U.S. poet laureate, the Library of Congress announced Thursday. The 82-year-old Merwin, who is also a National Book Award recipient, succeeds Kay Ryan.

William Stanley Merwin was born in New York; he grew up in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and attended Princeton, where he studied with poet John Berryman. He is quoted by the Poetry Foundation as admitting 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.”

Merwin, who undertook translation early in his career, has been a writer for more than 60 years. W.S. Merwin moved to Hawaii in 1976. In a 1999 interview at his home there, he told the New York Times, "Everything's got to do with listening." Then he continued, "Poetry is physical. As Pound said, poetry has one pole in reason and one pole in music. It's like making a joke. If you get one word wrong at the end of a joke, you've lost the whole thing." 

Additional sources of interest:

COOLCAT:  Merwin's titles owned by the Library

Library of Congress: History of U.S. Poet Laureate appointments

Literature Resource Center*:  Provides  information  on Merwin's life and works : Biography and multimedia on Merwin

NPR:  interview and poetry of Merwin

Columbia Granger's World of Poetry*   Biography of and poetry by Merwin.


* Library card required for use outside the Library

Find this article at