The news of William Merwin’s selection to be the “United States Poet Laureate” is exciting and should expand even further the pride that he gives Union City. Prior to this honor, he won the Pulitzer Prize TWICE! He’s one of only three people who ever did so for the same category (Poetry).
In 2006 when he held one Pulitzer, John Gomez (JJ writer) and I requested the city to do a street dedication near the house he lived in as a child. It was done by Commissioners Irizarry, Martinetti and Fernandez on April 22, 2006 with Mr. Merwin in attendance; he was thrilled and happy with the recognition from his “home town.” While here, he asked us to ride him past Edison School, the school he had attended and still remembered.
Over a few years I had requested the city a number of times to honor Mr. Merwin on a larger scale, including the naming of the Media Center in the new High School – that honor was bestowed on Jim McGreevey instead.
Last year when Mr. Merwin won his second Pulitzer Prize, I asked Mayor Stack to place a plaque on the Edison School grounds recognizing Mr. Merwin, his accomplishments and attendance at that school. I was referred to the U.C. Bd. of Ed. to have this done. After some time of false starts, it seemed we finally had it all planned and it would get done. I worked with the company that would have done the plaque, the design was made; the price for the plaque and its installation near the entrance for the school was settled (not very expensive relatively speaking). The only thing I couldn’t get them to commit to was the date for the observation (I had hoped to have it occur in a time frame where Mr. Merwin may have been in the area and therefore possibly attend as he had for the street dedication on 4th and New York Avenue). I was then told that “due to financial cuts, the plaque would not be done” (considering the low cost and various other things I won’t go into, I did not find this acceptable, but could do nothing about it).
I now ask the City of Union City to honor and observe this man who has given us “bragging rights” a number of times over; as well as serving as an inspiration to our youth and what they can accomplish in the world starting out from Union City. We have a LIVING legend that, if planned properly, may even be able to be in attendance of such an observation…..I hope such an opportunity won’t be missed.