Poet Laureate at KenyonGAMBIER, Ohio (November 2, 2010)
W.S. Merwin, poet laureate of the United States, will be honored on November 4 by the Kenyon Review in New York City and will journey to Kenyon for a public reading and lecture on November 6.
Merwin was chosen to receive the 2010 Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement, which honors careers of extraordinary achievement, recognizing writers whose influence and importance have shaped the literary landscape. The award is presented at a gala benefit dinner in New York City. Merwin will visit Gambier to deliver the keynote address at the fourth annual Kenyon Review Literary Festival.
He has written more than thirty books of poetry and prose, including The Carrier of Ladders, which won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1971, and The Shadow of Sirius, which won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize. A retrospective collection, Migration: New and Selected Poems, won the National Book Award for poetry in 2005. The New York Times has called Merwin "an undisputed master." He has cultivated an interest in Zen Buddhism and ecology as he has cultivated endangered species of indigenous plants at his home, a former pineapple plantation in Maui, Hawaii.
Merwin received a Kenyon Review Fellowship in 1954 when the journal's founding editor, John Crowe Ransom, identified him as a young poet of exceptional promise and talent, said David Lynn '76, Kenyon Review editor and professor of English. "Nearly six decades later Merwin remains exceptional: his work offers extraordinary grace, elegance, simplicity," Lynn said. "Its deep wisdom resonates in spare, crystal-pure tones." The Shadow of Sirius, he said, "represents a brilliant calibrating of vision in ripeness."
Literary festival events are free, and the public is encouraged to attend. Events on November 5 include:
- All day. Self-guided Merwin poetry hikes around Gambier. Tour maps will be available in Peirce Hall.
- 5:30 p.m. Empty Bowls Dinner for charity, Peirce Hall, Alumni Dining Room.
- 7:30 p.m. Reading by poet and novelist Forrest Gander, Peirce Hall Lounge.
Events on November 6 include:
- All day. Self-guided Merwin poetry hikes, with maps available at Peirce Hall.
- All day. Merwin art installation. Display of responses to Merwin poems by students in Professor of Art Claudia Esslinger's Digital Imaging class. Peirce Hall, Borden Atrium.
- 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Council of Literary Magazines and Presses Literary Magazine Fair and Kenyon Review Book Sale, Peirce Hall.
- 1:10 p.m. Panel discussion on the "Art of Translation," moderated by Katherine Hedeen , associate professor of Spanish, Peirce Hall, Bemis Music Room.
- 2:10 p.m. Seminar on "Translating our Middle Path: W.S. Merwin, Zen, and Nature at Kenyon," led by Royal Rhodes, Donald L. Rogan Professor of Religious Studies, Peirce Hall, Bemis Music Room.
- 3:10 p.m. Reading by poet and novelist Jean Portante, Peirce Hall, Bemis Music Room.
- 3:10-5:00 p.m. Kenyon Review archives display. Olin Library.
- 8:00 p.m. Denham Sutcliffe Memorial Lecture: An Evening with W.S. Merwin, followed by a reception and book-signing, Rosse Hall.
The Kenyon Review Literary Festival is made possible by support from the Kenyon Review Board of Trustees, the Denham Sutcliffe Memorial Lecture Series, First-Knox National Bank, Community Foundation of Mount Vernon and Knox County, Kenyon Faculty Lectureships, Mount Vernon News, and the Ohio Arts Council.