On Being Awarded the Pulitzer Prize

I’ve been informed that I have been awarded thePulitzer Prize for poetry for 1971.

I am pleased to know of the judges’ regard for my work, and I want to thank them for their wish to make their opinion public.

But after years of the news from Southeast Asia, and the commentary from Washington, I am too conscious of being an American to accept public congratulation with good grace, or to welcome it except as an occasion for expressing openly a shame which many Americans feel, day after day, helplessly and in silence.

I want the prize money to be equally divided between Alan Blanchard (Cinema Repertory Theater, Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley, California)—a painter who was blinded by a police weapon in California while he was watching American events from a roof, at a distance—and the Draft Resistance.

W. S. Merwin
Montana, May, 1971

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