Certain Words

Poets seldom reach consensus on aesthetic matters, but few indeed are the poets who don’t offer praise for the work of Pulitzer Prize winner and former U.S. Poet Laureate W.S. Merwin, widely acknowledged as a master of American poetry. His work spans decades and styles—his first books, published in the 1950s, offered formalist verse; more recent work eschews punctuation entirely.

Merwin’s verse is image-drenched and primal, evoking the natural world and the mental interior with subtle grace. In “Language,” he writes: “Certain words now in our knowledge we will not use again, and we will never forget them. We need them. Like the back of the picture. Like our marrow, and the color in our veins.”

April 30, 7:30 p.m. Followed by book sale and signing. Free, Wright Hall Auditorium, Smith College, Northampton, (413) 585-4891.

Author: James Heflin

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