I’m a couple days late with my felicitations, but W.S. Merwin was named America’s 17th Poet Laureate by the Library of Congress, on Thursday, July 1! Past Poet Laureates include Robert Lowell, Howard Nemerov, Rita Dove, Billy Collins, and Louise Glück. Good Company!
Merwin, who is 82, has written volumes and volumes of poetry, won two Pulitzer Prizes, a National Book Award (two of the three in the last decade! Pretty fantastic for a septuagenarian/octogenarian) and scores of other awards. I’ve always thought that W.S. Merwin had to be an important, serious poet because he has the two initials instead of a first name (like W.H. Auden, T.S. Eliot, e.e. cummings, etc.) and I was gratified and amused to find out in this New York Times’ article announcing his impending Laureate-hood, that Merwin “has said that he used his initials because doing so seemed serious and adult.”
Head to poets.org for their biography of Merwin and to read some of his poems, or enjoy this excerpt from The Poet’s View: Intimate Profiles of Five Major American Poets, which features Merwin alongside Kay Ryan (our 16th Poet Laureate) John Ashbery, Louise Glück, and Anthony Hecht: