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W.S. Merwin

Poet / Translator

Born: 30 September 1927
Birthplace: New York, New York
Best known as: The author of the collection The Carrier of Ladders
William Stanley Merwin is the 17th Poet Laureate of the United States and winner of the Pulitzer prize for poetry, for The Carrier of Ladders (1970) and The Shadow of Sirius (2009). A graduate of Princeton University (1948), he took the advice of poet Ezra Pound and studied romance languages while working on mostly verse plays. Merwin spent most of the 1950s and '60s in Europe (with some time in Cambridge, Massachusetts), writing, tutoring and lecturing, and making a name for himself as a poet with collections like A Mask for Janus (1952), The Drunk in the Furnace (1960) and The Lice (1967). Since then he's won just about every major poetry award, as well as the National Book Award (2005, for Migration: New & Selected Poems). Merwin went to Maui in the 1970s to study Zen buddhism, and he's been living on an environmentally-friendly farm ever since, writing meditative, sometimes surreal, poems and occasionally making trips off the island to lecture. An accomplished translator of poets from Dante to Pablo Neruda, Merwin has also published 8 works of prose, several verse plays and two memoirs. His books of poetry include The Compass Flower (1977), Opening the Hand (1983) and The River Sound (1999).
Extra credit: W.S. Merwin was named Poet Laureate of the United States in July of 2010 and began serving in October of 2010.

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