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The Library of Congress > Poetry & Literature > Current Poet Laureate > Past Poets Laureate: 2011-present
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W.S. Merwin

2010-2011

W.S. Merwin

Merwin (1927- ) was born in New York City and educated at Princeton University. He has traveled extensively in France, Portugal, and England. He is the author of more than 20 books of poetry. A Mask for Janus, his first book in 1952, was selected for the Yale Series of Younger Poets. His book Migration: Selected Poems 1951-2001 won the National Book Award for poetry in 2005. He has twice won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, in 1971 for his book The Carrier of Ladders, and in 2009 for The Shadow of Sirius. Merwin has also published more than 20 books of translation, numerous plays, and six books of prose.
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Philip Levine

2011-2012

Philip Levine

Levine was born in 1928 in Detroit and was formally educated there, in the public schools and at Wayne University (now Wayne State University). After a succession of industrial jobs, he left the city for good and lived in various parts of the country before settling in Fresno, California, where he taught at the state university until his retirement. For the past twelve autumns he has served as poet-in-residence at New York University. He has received many awards for his books of poems, the most recent being the National Book Award in 1991 for What Work Is and the Pulitzer Prize in 1995 for The Simple Truth. He divides his time between Fresno, California, and Brooklyn, New York.
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Natasha Trethewey

2012-2014

Natasha Trethewey

Trethewey was born in Gulfport, Mississippi on April 26, 1966. She is the author of four poetry collections and a book of creative non-fiction. Her honors include the Pulitzer Prize and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2012, she was appointed the State Poet Laureate of Mississippi. Trethewey received a BA from the University of Georgia, an MA from Hollins College (now Hollins University), and an MFA from the University of Massachusetts. Her first book of poems, Domestic Work (2000), was selected by former Poet Laureate Rita Dove as winner of the inaugural 1999 Cave Canem Poetry Prize and was published by Graywolf Press. Her subsequent poetry collections include Bellocq’s Ophelia (Graywolf Press, 2002) and Native Guard (Houghton Mifflin, 2006). Her fourth book of poetry, Thrall, is forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin in fall 2012.
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