NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—Smith College will present a reading and conversation with former U.S. Poet Laureate W. S. Merwin at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 30, in Weinstein Auditorium, Wright Hall. The reading is free and open to the public.
Merwin is one of the most widely read—and imitated—poets in the English language. Poet, translator, essayist, playwright and environmental activist, he has published 50 books and garnered most of the major prizes in American letters, including the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award, the Pulitzer Prize (twice) and the Bollingen Prize.
A typical Merwin poem is elusive, enigmatic and often disquieting. In poems marked by a severe and tenuous beauty, he explores human perception and the capacity of language to express experience, pondering the passage of time, the unreliability of memory and man’s perplexity in the face of a troubled planet. As the poet Peter Davison writes, he “engages the underground stream of our lives.”
Merwin’s varied and prolific literary career is entwined with his pacifist, anti-imperialist, environmentalist values and activism. For 30 years, he has been planting 19 acres on the Hawaiian island of Maui, creating a sustainable forest of more than 850 species of rare and endangered palm trees. In 2010, the property became The Merwin Conservancy, a retreat for botanists and writers.
Merwin’s reading will be followed by a book sale and signing. A limited number of assistive listening devices are available. If you’d like to reserve one, or for more information about the event, contact Jennifer Blackburn at (413) 585-4891 at least one day prior to the reading.
For disability access information or to request other disability accommodations, call (413) 585-2407. To request a sign language interpreter specifically, call (413) 585-2071 (voice or TTY) or e-mail ODS@smith.edu. All requests must be made at least 10 days prior to the event.