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The Writers Forum at SUNY Brockport

W. S. Merwin -- Poet

Host(s): Gregory Fiztgerald and William Heyen

Tape order number: VF-15-3

Visit Date: February 29, 1968

Length: 28 minutes

Published as:

  • "Tireless Quest: A Conversation with W. S. Merwin." Phillip L. Gerber and Robert J. Gemmett, Eds. The English Record 19.3 (February 1969): 9-18.

Brief Summary: Merwin discusses his changing poetic style, saying that he never stays excited about any style for very long, and that he now wants to write about direct experiences. He talks about the gradual abandonment of punctuation in his poems and the reliance on the language of a poem that a lack of punctuation highlights. Merwin also talks about the inability to shut the politics of the day out of his poems, and the "mutual revulsion" between are and topicality.

Work(s) Discussed:

  • The Lice

Work(s) Read:

  • "For the Anniversary of My Death"
  • "Leviathan"
  • "The Drunk in the Furnace"
  • "When the War is Over"
  • "The Angels Dying"
  • "The President"
  • "Looking for Mushrooms at Sunrise"
  • "The Free"

Writers mentioned:

  • Mandelstaum
  • R. Frost

Making something topical, works as a poem...if you keep it simply to the topical, it ceases to be a poem and moves toward propaganda.

-- W. S. Merwin

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