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Maui’s W.S. Merwin to become nation’s poet laureate

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WASHINGTON >>  A writer who stopped using punctuation in the 1960s and spent much of the last 30 years secluded in Maui will become the nation’s next chief poet.

The Library of Congress is announcing Thursday that William S. Merwin will become the 17th U.S. poet laureate this fall. He succeeds Kay Ryan, who has held the post since 2008.

The 82-year-old Merwin is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner. He won in 2009 for “The Shadow of Sirius” and in 1971. He studied poetry at Princeton University and has written more than 30 books.

The one-year appointment as poet laureate is meant to raise national appreciation of poetry. It comes with a $35,000 stipend and a $5,000 travel allowance.

Most of the work will be conducted from Merwin’s home in rural East Maui.

Merwin moved to Peahi, Maui in 1976 to study with Zen  master Robert Aitken. Since then, Merwin’s work has been marked by his passionate commitment to Buddhism and environmentalism.

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