W.S. Merwin, Peter Drucker, Scranton (and Me)
When I heard that two-time Pulitzer Prize winner W.S. Merwin had been named the new Poet Laureate by the Library of Congress, I thought of our shared roots in Scranton, Pa. I was born and raised there and Merwin lived in the city from ages 9-14. His connection was covered by the local media, including the Times-Tribune and neighboring Times Leader in Wilkes-Barre. Last year I blogged about the city’s transformation, and I returned for the first time in a year and a half two months ago, when I was one of the featured authors for the inaugural event Jewish Authors of Northeastern Pennsylvania. On my final day in town I walked through the reshaped courthouse square area, and saw the new Piazza dell’Arte sculpture paying tribute to Merwin and others from the worlds of the arts and humanities with ties to Lackawanna County.
At the author event I discussed my book, Living in More Than One World: How Peter Drucker’s Wisdom Can Inspire and Transform Your Life. There is also an important Scranton connection for Drucker. Forty six years earlier, in May 1964, he delivered the commencement address for the University of Scranton, within walking distance of my event, at the Jewish Community Center. At the time, he was 54 and a longstanding bestselling author. I was 12, living a short distance from where he spoke, and unaware of who he was. Part of my talk at the event was about how our lives intersected years later.
As for Merwin, he describes his changed, more positive feelings for Scranton in this 2008 Fresh Air interview. The Times-Tribune story says took part in a poetry series in the area about 20 years ago. What a wonderful touch it would be, if in his new capacity as Poet Laureate, he would make a return visit to Scranton to complete the circle.