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Poets who live long enough to write about the experience of old age provide a fascinating read for those of us who are now “of an age” and have occasion sometimes to wish we were poets, able to capture in words all the changes that surprise us late in life. There’s much food for thought on the subject of aging in the later poems of some of the instructor’s favorite recent American poets. They provide us not only an occasion to re-learn how to read contemporary poetry, but also perhaps to try writing some of our own. The class will read these three books for the second, third and fourth meetings:

November 5: W. S. Merwin (1927-2019) published Garden Time (2016) at the age of 89. He was going blind, and dictated the poems to his wife as he worked in his garden. Merwin published some twenty books of his own poems, and many translations. He was chosen U.S. poet laureate in 2010.

November 12: Charles Wright (b. 1935) was chosen U.S. poet laureate in 2015. His nineteenth book of poems, Sestets, (2009), appeared when he was 74. (His previous book, Littlefoot, is a poetic diary of his 70th year, meditating on time, life and death.)

November 19: Louise Glück (b. 1943) was U.S. poet laureate in 2003, and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2020. Her twelfth book, Faithful and Virtuous Night (2014) appeared when she was 71. (Her thirteenth, Winter Recipes from the Collective, appeared in 2021, at age 78.)

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