James Merrill book as seen at Capitol Hills Books in Washington, DC

James Merrill, Connecticut Award-winning Poet

James Merrill (1926-1995) was known primarily as a stylized 20th century US poet, though he wrote in a variety of forms and won numerous awards. He was also the son of the co-founder of Merrill Lynch and was quite philanthropic. According to http://famouspoetsandpoems.com, “In 1956 he took a portion of his inheritance to establish the Ingram Merrill Foundation in New York City, which has awarded grants to hundreds of artists and writers.”

Read more about Merrill at:

His Writing

According to https://www.poetryfoundation.org, “…he received two National Book Awards, for Nights and Days (1966) and Mirabell: Books of Numbers (1978); Merrill’s long Ouija-inspired epic poem The Changing Light at Sandover (1982) won the National Book Critics Circle Award, and he was awarded the inaugural Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry by the Library of Congress for his book The Inner Room (1988); he also received both the Bollingen Prize in Poetry and the Pulitzer Prize, the latter for a book of occult poetry called Divine Comedies (1976).”

“The sky is realest: the sky cannot
Be touched and in the mirror it cannot
Be touched. He is enchanted. The rare azur
Is flawless; happily blurred blue is no whit
Less exquisite than blue unblurred. And what
He misses he would never know was there.”
― James Merrill, Collected Poems

His House

The writer made his home at 107 Water Street in Stonington during the 1950s. It was left to the Stonington Village Improvement Association after he died and has remained associated with his memory ever since. Its characteristic fanciful decor has carried on the flavor of his personality and the value he placed on the arts. Today it is host to a calendar full of events as well as a Writer-in-Residence program.

Read more about it here: https://www.jamesmerrillhouse.org.

To learn about the Writer-in-Residence program, or to apply, click here: https://www.jamesmerrillhouse.org/the-writer-in-residence-program.

Stonington had a population of approximately 12,000 residents during the writer’s time and has since grown by around one-third more.

The James Merrill House is the final stop of the coastline part of the Connecticut Author Adventures Trail.