W.S. Merwin named US Poet Laureate
We think this is good news. Merwin is definitely a writer that deserves the position. He’s won almost every poetry prize possible in his lifetime including two Pulitzer Prizes and a National Book Award. In an interview w/ NPR yesterday Merwin credited his mother for reading him poetry when he was young. As soon as he was able to hold a pen and form words he began to write poetry. He was 4 when he wrote his first poem. Kinda hard to compete with that.
W.S. Merwin ushers in a more creative, experimental and metaphysical body of work to symbolize American Poetry. Even if it’s only for a little while it’s poets like this that give websites like Haggard and Halloo more relevance in our goal to publish creative and experimental writing.
Better yet, Merwin is replacing Kay Ryan. We’ve found Ryan’s poetry bland and uninteresting. A watered down Robert Frost if you will. Plus, she didn’t do anything notable for poetry during her term. The last person to actually DO anything was Pinsky. You may remember his Favorite Poem Project which was cool while it lasted.
Honestly, there have been some terrible choices for US Poet Laureate, but I’m not sure there is much to be done. Most of the time the poet collects their $35k a year stipend and adds the new title to their resume. We very rarely hear from the Poet Laureate about anything even though their duties include, “During his or her term, the Poet Laureate seeks to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry.” I wish someone would actually do that. We could use the help. For instance, any time I go to someone’s house (that I don’t know that well) and they have a shelve of books I always look to see if they have any books of poetry. Most of the time they don’t.
Let’s see if Merwin actually does anything to put more books of poetry on the shelves of the common American. Until then here’s a poem of his:
Five orange trees by the bridge and
Beside two mills my house
Into whose courtyard a blind man followed
The goats and stood singing
Of what was older
Soon it will be fifteen years
He was old he will have fallen into his eyes
I took my eyes
A long way to the calenders
Room after room asking how shall I live
One of the ends is made of streets
One man processions carry through it
Empty bottles their
Images of hope
It was offered to me by name
Once once and once
In the same city I was born
Asking what shall I say
He will have fallen into his mouth
Men think they are better than grass
I return to his voice rising like a forkful of hay
He was old he is not real nothing is real
Nor the noise of death drawing water
We are the echo of the future
On the door it says what to do to survive
But we were not born to survive
Only to live