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Poetry Day: W. S. Merwin

Thursday, October 6th, 6:00 PM

Cindy Pritzker Auditorium. Harold Washington Library Center, 400 South State Street
Free admission on a first-come, first-served basis

In a career spanning five decades, poet, translator, and environmental activist W. S. Merwin has become one of the most honored and widely read poets in America. From his first collection, A Mask for Janus, which W. H. Auden chose for the Yale Younger Poets Prize in 1952, to The Shadow of Sirius, winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize, Merwin has written with sheer grace and limpid power about the natural world, time and memory. His earliest poems are informed by his deep knowledge of classical and medieval literature, while his later work shows the influence of his profound pacifism and far-reaching conservationism. Through his formal innovations, and his abandonment of punctuation, he has developed a signature voice, unlike that of any other poet in English. Appointed U.S. Poet Laureate in 2010, Merwin lives, writes, and gardens in Hawaii, on the island of Maui. He has spent the last 30 years planting 19 acres with over 800 endangered species of palm, creating a sustainable forest. The property has recently been protected as the Merwin Conservancy.

Co-sponsored with the Chicago Public Library

Other Information

  • Browse Poems

  • Detail, photograph by Jun Fujita, circa 1930s, courtesy of the Graham and Pamela Lee private collection.
    Current Exhibition
    Jan 12, 2017 – May 26, 2017

    This exhibition presents photographs and ephemera from the poet Jun Fujita (1888-1963). Fujita is an English-language tanka poet who published regularly in Poetry during the 1920s. The first Japanese-American photojournalist, he is responsible for the most famous photos of the Eastland disaster, the Chicago race riots of 1919, and the St. Valentine’s Day massacre, among others. This show will explore his lesser-known landscapes.