Denison's Beck Series Welcomes Pulitzer Prize Winner W.S. Merwin
Posted: October 9, 2000
Poet, translator and environmental activist W.S. Merwin will be the next guest lecturer in the Beck Lecture Series at Denison University. Merwin will read from his works at 8 p.m. Monday (Oct. 16th) in the Slayter Auditorium.
At the age of five, Merwin began writing hymns for his father, a Presbyterian minister. As a young man he traveled to Europe and discovered a facility for languages that led to his work as a literary translator. During the early 1950's Merwin worked as a tutor of Latin, French, Spanish and Portuguese. Among his students were the children of poet Robert Graves.
Merwin's travels have influenced his poetry. His poetic voice has moved from the more formal and medieval - shaded by the influence of Robert Graves and of the medieval poetry he was translating - to a more distinctly American voice, following two years in Boston where he got to know Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, Adrienne Rich and Donald Hall. Merwin's form escapes punctuation and his themes reflect his deeply held beliefs about pacifism, environmentalism and anti-imperialism.
Merwin's first book, "A Mask for Janus," was chosen by W. H. Auden in 1952 to be published in the Yale Younger Poets Series. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1970 for his book of poems, "The Carrier of the Ladders." Author of 10 books, Merwin also has been awarded the Tanning Prize, the Bollingen Prize, and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, among others. In April of 1999, Merwin was named poetry consultant to the Library of Congress, a jointly held position with poets Rita Dove and Louise Gluck. His latest works include a book of poetry, "The River Sound," and a translation of Dante's "Purgatorio."
Denison University, founded in 1831, is an independent, residential liberal arts institution located in Granville, Ohio. A highly selective college enrolling 2,100 full-time undergraduate students from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries, Denison is a place where innovative faculty and motivated students collaborate in rigorous scholarship, civic engagement and the cultivation of independent thinking.
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