James Merrill: A Celebration of his Collected Poems, April 12, 2001

Richard Wilbur
Pulitzer Prize winner and
former Poet Laureate
Richard Wilbur

On April 12, an extraordinary gathering of friends and admirers of poet James Merrill met in Johnson Chapel at Amherst College to celebrate the publication of his Collected Poems.

Born in 1926, James Merrill graduated from Amherst College in 1947 and died in 1995. He taught English briefly at Amherst and lived in Stonington, Connecticut, Athens and Key West. From The Black Swan (1946) through A Scattering of Salts (1995), he wrote 12 books of poems. He also published two plays, The Immortal Husband (1956) and The Bait (1960); two novels, The Seraglio (1957) and The (Diblos) Notebook (1965); a book of essays, interviews, and reviews, Recitative (1986); and a memoir, A Different Person (1993).

The Johnson Chapel event was sponsored by the Amherst College Department of English and the Creative Writing Center.

audio Audio Clips
  • Opening remarks by Daniel Hall (211k MP3)
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  • Remarks by Agha Shahid Ali (309k MP3)
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  • "The Black Swan" read by Joseph Langland (644k MP3)
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  • Remarks on Merrill and Japan by Mary Jo Salter (306k MP3)
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  • "Fort Lauderdale" read by Mary Jo Salter (352k MP3)
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  • "The Emerald" read by David Sofield (571k MP3)
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  • Remarks by Richard Wilbur (664k MP3)
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"The Black Swan," "Fort Lauderdale" and "The Emerald" are from James Merrill's Collected Poems, published by Alfred A. Knopf and used by permission of the Literary Estate of James Merrill at Washington University.