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

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The Librarian of Congress James H. Billington today announced the appointment of W.S. Merwin (William Stanely Merwin) as the Library’s 17th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry for 2010-2011.

In a statement to the press Billington stated the following:

William Merwin’s poems are often profound and, at the same time, accessible to a vast audience. He leads us upstream from the flow of everyday things in life to half-hidden headwaters of wisdom about life itself. In his poem ‘Heartland,’ Merwin seems to suggest that a land of the heart within us might help map the heartland beyond–and that this ‘map’ might be rediscovered in something like a library, where ‘it survived beyond/ what could be known at the time/ in its archaic/ untaught language/ that brings the bees to the rosemary.’

Merwin will take up his duties in the fall, opening the Library’s annual literary series on Oct. 25 with a reading of his work.

Merwin has now received nearly every major literary award, including the National Book Award in 2005 for Migration: New and Selected Poems.

Merwin succeeds Kay Ryan as Poet Laureate. Past laureates have included Charles Simic, Donald Hall, Ted Kooser, Louise Glück, Billy Collins, Stanley Kunitz, Robert Pinsky, Robert Hass, Rita Dove and Richard Wilbur.

To read more about Merwin’s life, and a selection of his poems, click here.

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