Sunday, August 1, 2010

Poet Laureate

This piece previously published in The New Writer

W. S. Merwin Named Poet Laureate

On July 1, James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress, announced W.S. (William Stanley) Merwin will be appointed Poet Laureate of the United States. Merwin has published more than 30 volumes of poetry, essays, and translations. He has twice been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. He is also an avid conservationist, having worked to preserve the winter habitat of Monarch Butterflies in Mexico and numerous endangered plants found near his home in Hawaii.
The Librarian of Congress appoints the Poet Laureate after consulting poets, critics and other persons in the literary world. The Laureate has an office at the Library of Congress and serves a one year term, though several have been appointed to additional terms. The current Laureate, Kay Ryan, is now serving her second term.
The office of Poet Laureate was first established as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1937. In 1986, the title was changed to Poet Laureate and Consultant in Poetry. Robert Penn Warren was the first to serve with the new title.

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