Meredith, William 1919-2007 (William Morris Meredith)

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Meredith, William 1919-2007 (William Morris Meredith)


See index for CA sketch: Born January 9, 1919, in New York, NY; died of heart and respiratory failure, May 30, 2007, in New London, CT. Educator and author. Meredith was a Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning poet, as well as former poet laureate of the United States. A 1940 graduate of Princeton University, he worked briefly for the New York Times as a copy boy and reporter before World War II. Enlisting in the U.S. Army Air Forces, in 1942 he transferred to the Navy and served as a pilot in the Pacific theater. He taught English at his alma mater after the war, but then reenlisted for active duty in Korea. Meredith earned two Air Medals and was promoted to lieutenant commander. Settling in Connecticut, he joined the Connecticut College faculty, where he would remain until his 1983 retirement. As a poet, Meredith was known for his meticulous, formal style, his careful choice of words that implied so much more than was actually written on the page. He contemplated such subjects as mortality, loneliness, and fear, drawing on his war experiences, especially in his early work. Since he had been in the navy, it seemed natural, too, that many of his verses were about the sea and ships. Because he was such a careful writer, he was not prolific, publishing a dozen collections of verse over five decades. He earned the Pulitzer in 1988 for his Partial Accounts: New and Selected Poems (1987), and a National Book Award in 1997 for Effort at Speech: New and Selected Poems (1997), the latter a book contemplating his efforts at regaining his speech after a 1983 stroke that prevented him from writing for many years and also forced him to retire from teaching. Meredith also served as consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress from 1978 to 1980, a position that was later renamed poet laureate. Among his other poetry titles are The Open Sea and Other Poems (1958), Earth Walk: New and Selected Poems (1970), and The Cheer (1980). He also edited books and penned nonfiction titles, such as The Poet and the Poem (1990).



Los Angeles Times, June 4, 2007, p. B7.

New York Times, June 1, 2007, p. C11.

Times (London, England), June 18, 2007, p. 51.