Meet the Poets: W.S. Merwin

W.S. Merwin
1971, 2009 Pulitzer Prize Poetry
2010 United States Poet Laureate

“Any work of art makes one very simple demand on anyone who genuinely wants to get in touch with it. And that is to stop. You’ve got to stop what you’re doing, what you’re thinking, and what you’re expecting and just be there for the poem for however long it takes.” — W.S. Merwin.

30+ books of Poetry, Translation, and Prose

William Stanley Merwin (September 30, 1927 – March 15, 2019) is an American poet, credited with over 30 books of poetry, translation and prose. During the 1960s anti-war movement, Merwin’s unique craft was thematically characterized by indirect, unpunctuated narration.

Buddhist philosophy and Deep Ecology Influences

In the 1980s and 1990s, Merwin’s writing influence derived from his interest in Buddhist philosophy and deep ecology. Residing in Hawaii, he writes prolifically and is dedicated to the restoration of the islands’ rainforests.

Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (1971 and 2009)

Merwin has received many honors, including the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (in both 1971 and 2009) and the Tanning Prize, one of the highest honors bestowed by the Academy of American Poets, as well as the Golden Wreath of the Struga Poetry Evenings.

United States Poet Laureate 2010

In 2010, the Library of Congress named Merwin the seventeenth United States Poet Laureate to replace the outgoing Kay Ryan. Note: Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress—commonly referred to as the United States Poet Laureate or Poet Laureate of the United States.

More information can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._S._Merwin

Photo Source: Fair use of book cover of ” W.S. Merwin: Selected Poems.”

Meet the Poets: W.S. Merwin – 1971 and 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

“Any work of art makes one very simple demand on anyone who genuinely wants to get in touch with it. And that is to stop. You’ve got to stop what you’re doing, what you’re thinking, and what you’re expecting and just be there for the poem for however long it take.” — W.S. Merwin.

William Stanley Merwin (New York City, September 30, 1927) is an American poet, credited with over 30 books of poetry, translation and prose. During the 1960s anti-war movement, Merwin’s unique craft was thematically characterized by indirect, unpunctuated narration. In the 1980s and 1990s, Merwin’s writing influence derived from his interest in Buddhist philosophy and deep ecology. Residing in Hawaii, he writes prolifically and is dedicated to the restoration of the islands’ rainforests.

Merwin has received many honors, including the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (in both 1971 and 2009) and the Tanning Prize, one of the highest honors bestowed by the Academy of American Poets, as well as the Golden Wreath of the Struga Poetry Evenings. In 2010, the Library of Congress named Merwin the seventeenth United States Poet Laureate to replace the outgoing Kay Ryan.

Meet the Poets: Mona Van Duyn – Pulitzer Prize in Poetry 1991 and Poet Laureate of the United States of America 1992

Mona Jane Van Duyn (May 9, 1921 – December 2, 2004) was an American poet. She won every major American award for poetry and was appointed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1992.

In 1921, Mona Van Duyn was born in Waterloo, Iowa, and raised in the small town of Eldora, Iowa.

She received degrees from Iowa State Teachers College and the University of Iowa. It was there she met Jarvis Thurston, whom she married in 1943, and with whom she founded Perspective, a Quarterly of Literature in 1947, a publication she co-edited until 1975.

Van Duyn’s first collection of poems, Valentines to the Wide World (Cummington Publishing), was published in 1959, followed by A Time of Bees, which appeared as part of the University of North Carolina Press Contemporary Poetry Series in 1964.

She became close friends with the poet James Merrill, and from 1964 through 1981 the two engaged in regular correspondence, which included exchanging poems by mail.

In 1970, Van Duyn published To See, To Take (Atheneum), which received the National Book Award in 1971, followed by Bedtime Stories (Ceres Press, 1972). Her later collections include: Selected Poems (Knopf, 2003); Firefall (1994); If It Be Not I: Collected Poems, 1959-1982 (1994); Near Changes (1990), for which she won the Pulitzer Prize; Letters From a Father, and Other Poems (Atheneum, 1982); and Merciful Disguises (1973), which includes the bulk of her first four books.

About her work, the poet Alfred Corn has said, “Mona Van Duyn has assembled, in a language at once beautiful and exact, one of the most convincing bodies of work in our poetry.” Cynthia Zarin has called her poetry “notable for its formal accomplishment and for its thematic ambition,” adding that the “searching intelligence of the persona we have learned to know in her poems, combined with the humor, technical ease, and the blend of the abstract and the quotidian that the poet has made her own have resulted in that rare good thing: a strong, clear voice, original without eccentricity.”

Van Duyn was awarded the Bollingen Prize, the Hart Crane Memorial Award, the Ruth Lilly Prize, the Loines Prize of the National Institute of Arts and Letters, the Shelley Memorial Prize, and both the Harriet Monroe Memorial Prize and the Eunice Tietjens Award from Poetry magazine, as well as fellowships from The Academy of American Poets, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Van Duyn has said, “I believe that good poetry can be as ornate as a cathedral or as bare as a pottingshed, as long as it confronts the self with honesty and fullness. Nobody is born with the capacity to perform this act of confrontation, in poetry or anywhere else; one’s writing career is simply a continuing effort to increase one’s skill at it.”

She was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 1985, and served as the first woman Poet Laureate of the United States from 1992 to 1993, the year she was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame.

Mona Van Duyn died of bone cancer on December 1, 2004, in St. Louis, Missouri, where she had lived since 1950.

Selected Bibliography

Valentines to the Wide World (Cummington Publishing, 1959)
A Time of Bees (University of North Carolina Press, 1964)
To See, to Take (Antheneum, 1970)
Bedtime Stories (Ceres Press, 1972)
Merciful Disguises: Poems Published and Unpublished (Atheneum, 1973)
Letters from a Father, and Other Poems (Atheneum, 1982)
Near Changes (Knopf, 1990) – Pulitzer Prize 1991
If It Be Not I: Collected Poems (Knopf, 1992)
Firefall (Knopf, 1992)
Selected Poems (Knopf, 2002)

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mona_Van_Duyn and http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/169