US Poet Laureate
Librarian of Congress James H. Billington appointed W.S. Merwin to the post of 17th US Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. Merwin, 82, the son of a Presbyterian minister, studied poetry at Princeton. He made most of his living with translating and has lived most of the last 30 years in Hawaii in seclusion. He has won numerous literary awards over his sixty year career, including the Pultizer Prize, twice–in 2009 for “The Shadow of Sirius” and in 1971 for “The Carrier of Ladders.” His book, The Lice, showed his concern for endangered species like whales and won the 2005 National Book Award for poetry. Merwin joins the ranks of former laureates: Charles Simic, Donald Hall, Ted Kooser, Louise Glück, Billy Collins, Stanley Kunitz, Robert Pinsky, Robert Hass, Rita Dove and Richard Wilbur. Here is “A Conversation with W.S. Merwin,” in the Artful Dodge.
Mississippi’s Poet Laureate
I was recently surprised to find out that our Mississippi Poet Laureate, Winifred Hammond Farrar, is my best friend’s cousin! She grew up about 10 miles from me and was an English teacher in Meridian Public School sytem for 30 years. Born in 1923, Ms. Farrar was appointed Poet Laureate for the state of MS on July 31, 1978. Her works include:
- Behind the Ridge
- The Seeking Spirit
- Cry Life
- Moral intention in the work of William Faulkner: a call for postive action, by Winifred Hamrick Farrar (thesis)
She also read a poem she wrote about Mississippi, called “Treasures” on Good Morning America in Sept. 2007. It was written for Robin Robert’s one year anniversary on GMA.