More thoughts on the poet laureate

Carmichael Peters

We returned from the long weekend to a nice surprise from Carmichael Peters, Ph.D., assistant professor, Wilkinson College, Department of Religious Studies. Dr. Peters was out of town when we first posted reactions from
Chapman’s poetry community
to last week’s announcement that
W.S. Merwin
is the new U.S. poet laureate. But Dr. Peters caught up with us and shared some eloquent thoughts:

“I knew of W. S. Merwin before I began reading his poetry. He and I were Zen students of Robert Aitken Roshi. However, it wasn’t until graduate studies in the early 1980’s in Berkeley, California, that a UCB instructor introduced me to his work. At some point during an intensive course in Latin, which I was taking with her, she gave me a copy of his poem “Learning A Dead Language.” I was so impressed by his re-presentation of my experience with Latin that I began to read his other works. Not surprisingly, I imagine, I found then, and continue to find now, a remarkable mixture of stark Zen simplicity and high sincerity in his poetry. One of my favorite collections is
The Rain in the Trees
. It is indeed heartening that such a gifted poet has been honored as poet laureate. Perhaps now more people will get a chance to venture forth into the landscape upon which his poetry opens.”

Have thoughts about the new poet laureate? Please, feel free to join the conversation and add a comment.

Dawn Bonker

1 comment

  • My colleague is always eloquent and especially so here. As with music, not all poetry is for every person, but each of us is likely to find a poet or three with whose work we especially resonate. For Carmichael Peters, W. S. Merwin’s poetry has resonated deeply–and I think that might become the case for many new readers who happen to hear of Merwin’s appointment. I hope that the visibility of the Poet Laureate’s role in our culture leads people to find poems they appreciate.