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Department of English News

Kent State University Hosts U.S. Poet Laureate W.S. Merwin

Posted Sep. 29, 2011

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and U.S. Poet Laureate 2010-2011 W.S. Merwin is coming to Kent State University on Monday, Oct. 10, for two public events that will provide rare opportunities for the community to learn about his life and renowned poetry.

U.S. Poet Laureate W.S. MerwinAt 2 p.m. on the first floor of the Kent State University Library, Merwin will hold an informal question and answer session with students and community members.  Also at 2 p.m., University Libraries is holding an opening for its new exhibition Doorway to the Work of W.S. Merwin. For the next two and a half months (Oct. 1 –Dec. 15), some of Merwin’s most celebrated poems and literature will be on display in the University Library lobby to honor him and his many accomplishments.

Then at 7:30 p.m. in the Kent Student Center Ballroom, Merwin will read from some of his most famous works. All events are free and open to the public.

“Having a legend like Merwin at Kent State University is quite an honor,” said Jim Bracken, dean of Kent State’s University Libraries. “His breadth of accomplishments is astounding, and to be able to share that with our students and the community firsthand is a unique opportunity.”

Merwin is the author of numerous books of poetry, prose and translations, including Migration: Selected
Poems 1951-2001
, winner of the National Book Award. His work embodies a bold commitment to
experimentation and transformation and is influenced by his environmentalist and pacifist beliefs.

Today, Merwin lives in Hawaii on a former pineapple plantation. He has worked to restore the forest
surrounding his home to its original rainforest state, which has greatly influenced his later works.

The evening event is part of the Fall Reading Series presented by the university’s Wick Poetry Center, where both emerging and established writers provide readings, lectures and workshops, all free and open to the public. Kent State’s University Libraries, Honors College, Department of English, Office of the Provost and Institute for Applied Linguistics are co-sponsors of Merwin’s visit.

For more information, visit www.kent.edu/wick or call 330-672-2067.

The Wick Poetry Center at Kent State is using the occasion of Merwin’s visit to launch a new discussion group at the Kent Free Library. Poetically Speaking: A Series of Conversations with the Wick Poetry Center kicks off on Sunday, Oct. 9, from 2 - 3:30 p.m. with a discussion about Merwin’s poetry led by David Hassler, director of the Wick Poetry Center.

Packets of Merwin's poems will be available in advance at the library or download at http://www.kentfree.lib.oh.us/Merwin.pdf. However, no previous knowledge of the poet's work is necessary to attend the conversation or campus events. Advance registration is requested. Please contact the Kent Free Library at 330-673-4414 or kflinfo@kentfreelibrary.org.


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Photo Caption:
U.S. Poet Laureate W.S. Merwin at his home in Hawaii. Photo by Tom Sewell.

Media Contacts:
David Hassler, dhassle1@kent.edu, 330-672-1769
Bob Burford, rburford@kent.edu, 330-672-8516