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W.S. Merwin: Online Resources

Created by Peter Armenti, Digital Reference Specialist

W.S. Merwin, U.S. Poet Laureate
W.S. Merwin
U.S. Poet Laureate, 2010-11

Photograph © Matt Valentine, www.mattvalentine.com

On July 1, 2010, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington announced the appointment of W.S. Merwin as the 17th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. On making the appointment, Dr. Billington said:

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."

In 1999, Dr. Billington appointed Merwin, along with Rita Dove and Louise Glück, Special Consultants in Poetry to assist the then poet laureate Robert Pinsky with the poetry programs of the Library's Bicentennial Year.

Merwin was born in New York City and educated at Princeton University. He has traveled extensively in France, Portugal, and England. He is the author of more than 20 books of poetry. A Mask for Janus, his first book in 1952, was selected for the Yale Series of Younger Poets. His book Migration: Selected Poems 1951-2001 won the National Book Award for poetry in 2005. He has twice won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, in 1971 for his book The Carrier of Ladders, and in 2009 for The Shadow of Sirius. Merwin has also published more than 20 books of translation, numerous plays, and six books of prose. He lives in Hawaii.

Merwin described the theme of his term as poet laureate, which ended in May 2011, as "the fact that there’s no separation between human imagination and the rest of life. Put another way, humans are not a separate species. The world is a part of us. It should be part of our joy and our pleasure. When we destroy the world, we’re destroying ourselves."

This guide compiles links to resources on W.S. Merwin throughout the Library of Congress Web site, as well as links to external Web sites that include features on his life or selections of his work. To suggest additions to this guide, please contact the Digital Reference Section.

Resources

Library of Congress Web Site
   •Selected Press Releases, Articles
   •Audio and Video
   •Print Resources
External Web Sites
   •Biographical Information, Poetry
   •Interviews, Articles, and Conversations
   •Audio Recordings
   •Videos
   •Articles and Essays by W.S. Merwin
   •Teaching and Study Resources
   •Book Reviews
   •W.S. Merwin in the News

Library of Congress Web Site

Selected Press Releases, Articles

Poetry and Literature Center Biography of W.S. Merwin

Official press release announcing W.S. Merwin's appointment as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry

"Merwin Wins 2006 Bobbitt Prize"
Library of Congress Information Bulletin, November 2007

"W.S. Merwin, Winner of the Bobbitt Poetry Prize, Will Read, Oct. 31"
October 22, 2007

"A Wealth of Verse: Merwin, Qualls, Sacks Read at Library in October"
Library of Congress Information Bulletin, December 1997

"Poet W.S. Merwin Reads at Library of Congress October 15"
September 22, 1997

Audio and Video

Poet Laureate W.S. Merwin Closes the Literary Season (1:04:27)
May 4, 2011

W.S. Merwin Opens the Literary Season (1:04:23)
October 25, 2010

M.S. Merwin, Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry Recipient, Reads From His Works (1:24:24)
October 31, 2007

Poet and Poem interview, 2000 (direct link; 54:35)

Poetry in America: A Library of Congress Bicentennial Celebration (direct link; Merwin begins at 1:00:20)
April 4, 2000

Print Resources

Works by W.S. Merwin in the Library of Congress online catalog can be found under the following author heading:

Merwin, W.S. (William Stanley), 1927-

Works about W.S. Merwin in the Library of Congress online catalog can be found under the following subject headings:

Merwin, W.S. (William Stanley), 1927---Childhood and youth.
Merwin, W.S. (William Stanley), 1927---Criticism and interpretation.
Merwin, W.S. (William Stanley), 1927- Interviews.
Merwin, W.S. (William Stanley), 1927---Knowledge--Natural history.
Merwin, W.S. (William Stanley), 1927---Travel--Europe.
Merwin, W.S. (William Stanley), 1927---Travel--France--Limousin.

Link disclaimerExternal Web Sites

(Download the Adobe Acrobat Reader to view PDF documents.)

Biographical Information, Poetry

Academy of American Poets
Biography of W.S. Merwin, samples of his poetry, and links to external resources.

The Merwin Conservancy
Biography of W.S. Merwin from the Merwin Conservancy, whose mission is to "preserv[e] the living legacy of W.S. Merwin, his home and palm forest, for future study and retreat for botanists and writers, for environmental advocacy and community education programs.

National Book Foundation
Biography of W.S. Merwin and link to the text of his 2005 National Book Award acceptance speech.

Poetry Foundation
Biography of W.S. Merwin, more than 30 full-text poems, audio recordings, and articles by and about Merwin.

The Steven Barclay Agency
Biography of W.S. Merwin and links to other Web sites.

W.S. Merwin Papers
A finding aid to the W.S. Merwin Papers at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The Writer's Almanac
Full-text of more than 40 poems. Poems from September 30, 2001 to present include links to audio recordings by Garrison Keillor.

Interviews, Articles, and Conversations

"Patt Morrison Asks: The Poet, W.S. Merwin"
Los Angeles Times, August 27, 2011

"Interview with U.S. Poet Laureate W.S. Merwin"
Beached Miami, March 11, 2011

"An Interview with W.S. Merwin, Poet Laureate"
The Progressive, November 2010

"W.S. Merwin is Green as U.S. Poet Laureate"
Los Angeles Times, August 29, 2010

"W.S. Merwin: What Kind of Poet Laureate will He Be?"
The Christian Science Monitor, July 2, 2010

"W.S. Merwin, Hawaii-based Poet, Will Serve as 17th U.S. Laureate" (free registration required)
The Washington Post, July 1, 2010

"W. S. Merwin to Be Named Poet Laureate" (free registration required)
The New York Times, July 1, 2010

"Finding Home and Inspiration in the World of Nature" (free registration required)
The New York Times, June 30, 2010

"Why WS Merwin Deserves His Second Pulitzer Prize"
The Guardian Books blog, April 24, 2009

"W.S. Merwin Interview"
Academy of Achievement, July 3, 2008

"Present in Company: Translator and Poet W.S. Merwin Muses on the Importance of Nothing"
Metroactive, November 21, 2007

W.S. Merwin
Bliss Lit, Winter 2005

"A Master Gardener of Verse"
The Christian Science Monitor, April 24, 2003

Interview with W.S. Merwin
The Pedestal Magazine, April-June 2003

"Catching Up with Maui’s Most Famous Poet"
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, April 21, 2001

"Swimming Up Into Poetry"
The Atlantic Monthly, August 28, 1997

"A Poet of their Own" (free registration required)
The New York Times, February 19, 1995

"W.S. Merwin"
The Art of Poetry No. 38, The Paris Review, Issue 102 (Spring 1987)

"A Conversation with W.S. Merwin"
Artful Dodge, 1982

Audio Recordings

Radio Programs

"W.S. Merwin on Poetry" (19:46)
The Leonard Lopate Show, January 3, 2011

"W.S. Merwin Named Nation's 17th Poet Laureate" (05:10)
All Things Considered, NPR, July 1, 2010

"The Art Of Poetry: A Conversation With W.S. Merwin" (53:59)
Weekday
, KUOW, February 4, 2010

"The Poetic 'Shadow' Of Memory, Mortality" (20:35)
Fresh Air, NPR, December 16, 2009

"W.S. Merwin: The Shadow of Sirius"
The Tavis Smiley Show, April 24, 2009

"W.S. Merwin: The 'Sirius' Side Of Poetry" (19:41)
Fresh Air, NPR, April 21, 2009

"W.S. Merwin" (28:29)
Bookworm, KCRW, August 31, 2006

"RADIO ALOUD: A Library of the Airwaves" (Merwin begins at 45:16)
Library Foundation of Los Angeles, April 4, 2005

"Armchair Traveler: W.S. Merwin" (07:05)
Morning Edition, NPR, August 7, 2003

Other Audio

W.S. Merwin
Folger Poetry Series, May 3, 2010

Poetry: W.S. Merwin (52:00)
Hammer Museum, UCLA, October 29, 2009

W.S. Merwin (13:35)
Academy of Achievement, 2008

W.S. Merwin with Robert Hass
Lannan Readings & Conversations, October 26, 2005

W.S. Merwin: Essential American Poets (08:48)
Poetry Foundation

Academy of American Poets Recordings

"For the Anniversary of My Death"
"My Friends"

The Atlantic Monthly

This profile of Merwin include links to audio recordings of "Vehicles," "The Speed of Light," "End of a Day," "Green Fields," "Another River," "Echoing Light," and "Remembering."

Poetry Foundation Recordings

Poems of Pollution and Protest (includes recording of Merwin's "In Time" at 02:45)
Essential American Poets (09:11)
"To My Legs" (00:56)
"To the Ancient Order of Legs" (00:46)
W.S. Merwin and Dara Wier on gratitude and food (06:22)

Slate Magazine Recordings

"Dante, Purgatory: Canto XI"
"Lit in Passing"
"Memorandum"
"The Source"

Videos

"Poets & Readers Together: W.S. Merwin Addresses Librarians at Poets House" (06:41)
Poets House, via YouTube, October 21, 2010

"A Conversation with W.S. Merwin" (35:18)
The Kenyon Review, Fall 2010

"W.S. Merwin on Becoming the New Poet Laureate"
PBS NewsHour
, October 27, 2010

"W.S. Merwin in conversation with Paul Holdengräber" (107:41)
LIVE from the NYPL, October 22, 2010, via YouTube

Bill Moyers Journal (Part One - 18:53; Part Two - 30:25)
June 26, 2009

"W.S. Merwin: A Passion for Poetry and the Natural World"
Online NewsHour Poetry Series, December 29, 2008

"A Tribute to W.S. Merwin at the 92nd Streey Y" (38:17)
92Y Blog, October 10, 2005

W.S. Merwin with Naomi Shihab Nye
Lannan Readings & Conversations, October 18, 2000

Fooling with Words (1:50)
Reads "Yesterday"

The Poet's View - W.S. Merwin on Learning Your Own Language" (03:24)
The Academy of American Poets

YouTube
Search results for W.S. Merwin

Articles and Essays by W.S. Merwin

"Who Do You Love? A Poet and Translator Illuminates Five Heart-stopping Moments."
Poetry Foundation, October 31, 2007

Teaching and Study Resources

Introductions, Guides, and Poem Explications

"Merwin, W.S. - Introduction."
Poetry Criticism, v. 45, 2003. (via eNotes.com)

Modern American Poetry
Includes scholarly criticism of more than a dozen Merwin poems, an online interview, links to book reviews, and more.

W.S. Merwin: "The Nails"
Poetry Foundation Poem Guide

Critical Articles

"Lost Origins: W.S. Merwin's Poems of Division"
Weber, v. 14, no. 2 (Spring/Summer 1997)

"Seeing the West Side of Any Mountain: Thoreau and Contemporary Ecological Poetry"
Jacket Magazine, v. 2, no. 1 (includes discussion of Merwin's poem "The Last One")

Book Reviews

Excerpts of several reviews on the Modern American Poetry Web site

The Shadow of Sirius (2008)

The Christian Science Monitor

The New York Times (free registration required)

The Seattle Times

The Book of Fables (2007)

San Francisco Chronicle

The Washington Post (free registration required)

Selected Poems (2007)

The Guardian

Migration: New and Selected Poems (2005)

Beloit Poetry Journal

Jacket Magazine

The New York Times (free registration required)

Present Company (2005)

Beloit Poetry Journal

Summer Doorways: A Memoir (2005)

The New York Times (free registration required)

Notre Dame Review (PDF, 49 KB)

The Ends of the Earth: Essays (2004)

The New York Times (free registration required)

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: A New Verse Translation (2004)

Boston Review

The Guardian

The New Criterion

The Mays of Ventadorn (2002)

San Francisco Chronicle

The Pupil: Poems (2001)

The New York Times (free registration required)

Purgatorio (2001 translation)

Boston Review

The River Sound (1999)

The New York Times (free registration required)

The Richmond Review

The Vixen (1996)

Boston Review

The Lost Upland (1992)

The New York Times (free registration required)

Selected Poems (1988)

The New York Times 1 (free registration required)

The New York Times 2 (free registration required)

The Rain in the Trees (1988)

The New York Times 1 (free registration required)

The New York Times 2 (free registration required)

The Lice (1967)

Open Letters Monthly

Spanish Ballads (1961)

coldfront magazine

W.S. Merwin in the News

Google News search on W.S. Merwin

Blog entries on W.S. Merwin, via Google Blogs

 

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