W.S. Merwin
Poetry Icon


W.S. Merwin

Past Event: Monday, March 28, 2005

In a career spanning six decades, Pulitzer Prize-winner W.S. Merwin—poet, translator, and environmental activist—has become one of the most prolific, most read, and most honored writers of the century.

His first book of poems, A Mask for Janus (1952), was selected by W.H. Auden for the prestigious Yale Series of Younger Poets. In all, Merwin has written more than fifteen books of poetry, several volumes of prose, and numerous works of translation. He is known for his virtuosic range of style, from formal to experimental, and of subject, from classical myth to contemporary society. Edward Hirsch, writing in the New York Times, called Merwin “a master of erasures and negations, a visionary of discomfort and reproof, the Samuel Beckett of postwar American poetry.”

A Guggenheim Fellow and former U.S. Poet Laureate, Merwin has been awarded almost every major prize in American poetry and translation, including the Bollingen Prize, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the PEN Translation Prize, the Tanning Prize for mastery in the art of poetry, and the 2004 Lannan Lifetime Achievement Award. Merwin has lived in many parts of the world, most recently in Haiku, Hawaii.