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The poetry of 2005 National Book Award Winner WS Merwin has just arrived on my horizon. I've not read anywhere near enough to make a judgement yet, and what I have read I am, so far, rather cool about. But I'm interested enough to read more and, happily, I can: Copper Canyon Press have been kind enough to send on copies of Merwin's Migration: New & Selected Poems and his most recent collection Present Company and Shoemaker & Hoard have sent on his memoir Summer Doorways (in 1948, aged twenty-one, Merwin made his first trip to Europe ... and, amongst other things, he met the young Samuel Beckett).


About Merwin, the Copper Canyon website tells me:


WS Merwin was born in New York City in 1927. From 1949 to 1951 he worked as a tutor in France, Mallorca, and Portugal; for several years afterward he made the greater part of his living by translating from French, Spanish, Latin, and Portuguese. His many awards include the 2005 National Book Award in Poetry for Migration: New & Selected Poems, the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, the Tanning Prize for mastery in the art of poetry, the Bollingen Award, the Ruth Lily Poetry Prize, as well as fellowships from the Rockefeller and the Guggenheim Foundations and the National Endowment for the Arts ... For the past thirty years he has lived in Hawaii.

Readers Comments

  1. Trish Lindsey Jaggers Thursday 19 June 2008

    I met W.S. Merwin in Louisville, Ky, in November 2006. He was the distinguished guest of Spalding University's MFA in Creative Writing Program, of which I will soon be an alum (emphasis in poetry). He met with the students several times and read before a "standing-room-only" crowd at the Brown Hotel's Crystal Ballroom (in Louisville).

    I've loved Merwin's work for years, so I was entranced by his very presence. I must say that I was not disappointed but even more enchanted by meeting him, shaking his hand, watching him sign my tattered copy of his book. Before he left, I gifted him with several raw opals, our shared Libra birthstone. To me, opals represent a beautiful, clear--but desperate--voice trapped within a thin bubble of pressure--much like his poetry. Exactly like his poetry. He was pleased with the gift.

    Since this encounter (and after reading, several times, everything he's ever published), my dream is twofold: I'd like to know if he still has and loves the opals, and to have him write the review for my upcoming book of poetry--much of which I attribute to Merwin. I have a complete section of apostrophe poems written in tribute to Present Company. Merwin has been such a strong influence to my writing self. While I never ever hope to imitate him, I do wish to be the wall off which his voice forms an echo.

    I wish to thank him for enriching the cosmos with his voice. It's one I hear, over and over again.

    Trish Lindsey Jaggers

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