In 1999, Merwin was named Poetry Consultant to the Library of Congress along with poets Rita Dove and Louise Gluck. Besides the Pulitzer Prize he is also the recipient of the Tanning Prize, the Bollingen Prize, and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, as well as the beneficiary of the prestigious Lannan Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2005 he was honored as laureate of the Struga Poetry Evenings Festival in Macedonia, and in the process he received the Golden Wreath Award, a prominent award in international poetry.
Merwin finds much of his motivation in the natural world, and his deeply held environmentalist and pacifist beliefs seamlessly blend together to discover the relationship between nature and the language of mankind. His lecture at the Athenaeum will delve into these personal beliefs that shape the writings of one of America's premier literary minds.