New US poet laureate

Howard Nemerov has been named the third United States poet laureate. He will take over the responsibilities, such as they are (a public poetry reading, a lecture - no poems written to order for the president's birthday or anything like that), in the fall, when Richard Wilbur steps down. Nemerov is distinguished university professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis and the author of novels and criticism, along with many books of poems. He has won many awards. A man of experience who is noted for understatement, Nemerov will wear the laurels lightly. Unlike the British poet laureateship, a life appointment involving the creation of poems for public occasions, the one-year US laureateship seems typically American in the transcience that undermines any sense of historical dimension to the post.

A poem from Nemerov's most recent book (``War Stories,'' Chicago University Press, 1987) puts the laureateship and much else in perspective.

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