William S. Merwin has been named our next Poet Laureate.
Merwin is a fine poet and craftsman. I was reading a line from a New York Times article that said, "At 18, he sought out the advice of Ezra Pound, who told him to write 75 lines every day. Pound also suggested taking up poetry translation to learn what could be done with language — advice that Mr. Merwin followed." Can you imagine writing 75 lines a day? That's determination.
I wonder what Merwin will bring to the position.
That same article goes on to quote James Billington, the librarian of Congress, who is "confident that Mr. Merwin can broaden the audience for poetry through technology ... ." Really? This from a man who has never typed a poem on a computer (which is implied later in the article).
Personally, I want the person selected as poet laureate to do something with the position. It’s not required that he/she advance or promote poetry, but the service aspect of the laureateship has become more prominent with our more recent laureates.
From the LOC's website:
Each Laureate brings a different emphasis to the position. Joseph Brodsky initiated the idea of providing poetry in airports, supermarkets and hotel rooms. Maxine Kumin started a popular series of poetry workshops for women at the Library of Congress. Gwendolyn Brooks met with elementary school students to encourage them to write poetry. Rita Dove brought together writers to explore the African diaspora through the eyes of its artists. She also championed children's poetry and jazz with poetry events. Robert Hass organized the "Watershed" conference that brought together noted novelists, poets and storytellers to talk about writing, nature and community.
It is my deepest hope that Merwin uses the position somehow for the betterment of poetry rather than see it as just another accolade.
What to you think of the appointment of W.S. Merwin as U.S. Poet Laureate?