Thursday, July 01, 2010

W.S. Merton Named Poet Laureate of the United States

William Stanley Merwin, 82, has been named Poet Laureate of the United States. He resides in Hawaii, where he moved in the 1970s to study Zen Buddhism. A two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, he now devotes the bulk of his time to cultivating endangered species of plants.

Although it spawned a book, few seem to remember that Merwin was at the heart of a firestorm of controversy surrounding the late Trungpa Rinpoche -- who on one occasion reportedly found Merwin to be unbearably uptight, aloof, and patronizing.

The controversy stemmed from a superficially alcohol-related incident on Halloween, 1975, involving Merwin, his companion Dana Naone, the "Vajra Guard," forced nudity, a broken bottle, and the poet's eye. Addressing the incident, Merwin later offered this uptight, aloof, and patronizing comment:
"My feelings about Trungpa have been mixed from the start. Admiration, throughout, for his remarkable gifts; and reservations, which developed into profound misgivings, concerning some of his uses of them. I imagine, at least, that I've learned some things from him (though maybe not all of them were the things I was 'supposed' to learn) and some through him, and I'm grateful to him for those. I wouldn't encourage anyone to become a student of his. I wish him well."
The New York Times (their photo, above) is reporting that some things don't change.
“I do like a very quiet life,” Mr. Merwin said by telephone after learning of his appointment. “I can’t keep popping back and forth between here and Washington.”

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2 reader comments:

namo said...

ahhhh vajra dirt, distinct from vajra ground? or no?

Editor said...

poet piss