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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Did You Know?

A few bits of interesting facts you may not know about the next Poet Laureate, W.S. Merwin-

I've actually been enjoying Merwin as a poet for quite a while now.  I own three of his books, one being Migration which is a quite lengthily manuscript so I've read a lot of his work. As such, I've learned a bit about him over the last couple of years, but recently, a few more facts and I believe he is as interesting a person as he is a part of the American poetry landscape.

Here are a few of the more interesting bits of information.   How many of these did you already know?

  1. Merwin is a two time Pulitzer Prize winner and was a winner of the National Book Award (for Migration).
  2. During the1960s Merwin decided to stop using punctuation in his poems. He said that he had "come to feel that punctuation stapled the poems to the page ...  Se said, “I wanted instead the movement and lightness of the spoken word.”
  3.  He and an earlier wife, Dido figured prominently in a period of time when Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes were in Europe.
  4. Merwin was the son of a Presbyterian minister.
  5. Merwin and his present wife reside on an old Pineapple plantation on Maui that had been restored to a more natural state. He's cultivated more than 700 endangered species of indigenous plants including the Hyophorbe indica, a palm tree he helped save from extinction
  6. The 18 year old Merwin  sought out the advice of  poet Ezra Pound, who told him to write 75 lines every day.
  7. He claims to never have composed a poem on any sort of mechanical or electronic device, preferring a small spiral notebook or even a paper napkin.
  8. He does not have e-mail, further says he doesn't want it.
  9. He was first awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1971, and used the occasion to speak out passionately against the war in Vietnam, donating his prize money to the anti-war effort.
  10. He has began studying  Zen Buddhism in the 1970's.
  11. Merwin, a pacifist, was incarcerated in a naval mental hospital near the end of the second world war for his pacifism.
  12. He has translated materials from from French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, among other languages.
So how many of these things did you know?  What if anything surprised you?


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