Contact: Yvonne French (202) 707-9191

September 22, 1997

Poet W.S. Merwin Reads at Library of Congress October 15

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet W.S. Merwin will read his poems the at 6:45 p.m. October 15 in the Montpelier Room on the 6th floor of the James Madison Memorial Building, 101 Independence Ave., S.E. Tickets are not required.

W.S. Merwin's most recent collection of poetry is The Vixen(1996), published by Alfred A. Knopf. His other volumes of poetry include A Mask for Janus(1952); The Drunk in the Furnace(1960); The Lice(1967); The Carrier of Ladders (1970), for which he received the Pulitzer Prize in 1971; The Compass Flower(1977); Opening the Hand(1983); and The Rain in the Trees(1988).

His translations include The Poem of the Cid(1959); The Satires of Persius(1960); The Song of Roland(1963); Selected Translations 1948-1968(1968), for which he won the PEN Translation Prize for 1968; Osip Mandelstam, Selected Poems (1974, with Clarence Brown); Iphigeneia at Aulis of Euripides, with George Dimock (1978); Vertical Poetry, a selection of poems by Roberto Juarroz (1988); and Sun at Midnight, a selection of poems by Muso Soseki, translated with Soiku Shigematsu (1989).

Mr. Merwin's other awards and prizes include the Fellowship of the Academy of American Poets, the Governor's Award for Literature of the state of Hawaii (1987), The Tanning Prize for mastery in the art of poetry (1993), the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize for Travels(1993), and a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writers' Award (1994).

The work of W.S. Merwin has received wide acclaim in the course of his career. J. D. McClatchy, wrote in The New Yorker, "Merwin has always been a contemplative poet, drawn to the lessons of the natural world and the rigors of unmediated vision. He has also been a romantic poet, heroic in his quest for the depths and intensities, the powers and possibilities of consciousness. Best of all, he has been a surprising poet, continually slipping the bonds of anyone's easy admiration."

The poetry and literature reading series at the Library of Congress is the oldest in the Washington area, and one of the oldest in the United States. This annual series of public poetry and fiction readings, lectures, symposia, and occasional dramatic performances began in the 1940s and has been almost exclusively supported since 1951 by a gift from the late Gertrude Clarke Whittall, who wanted to bring the enjoyment and appreciation of good literature to a larger audience. The Poetry and Literature Center, which administers the series, is also the home of the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, a position that has existed since 1936, when the late philanthropist Archer M. Huntington endowed the Chair of Poetry at the Library of Congress. Since then, many of the nation's most eminent poets have served as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress and, after the passage of Public Law 99-194 in 1985, as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. The Poet Laureate suggests authors to read in the literary series, plans other special literary events during the reading season, and usually introduces the programs.

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PR 97-155
ISSN 0731-3527

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