Poetry & Conservancy In Hawaii


April 21, 2021

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National Poetry Month is drawing to a close, and before it ends, I have to share with you a very special favorite poet of mine – W.S. Merwin.  He created a stunning nature preserve in Hawaii. And yes, you can go and visit now!

The Merwin Conservancy is an extraordinary place—a lush and rare, 19-acre palm forest that two-time Pulitzer prize winning poet W.S. Merwin beckoned into being from land designated as agricultural wasteland  — and it conserves the sense of wonder that brought forth both Merwin’s poetry, and his garden. There are now nearly 3,000 individual trees of more than 400 different species.

The Merwin Conservancy hosts Open Garden Days twice a month on the island of Maui so you can visit. Hikes are led by staff and/or docents, and include informal historical and botanical conversation, poetry readings, as well as quiet reflection time. And they are truly hikes, not walks so good shoes, walking sticks and bringing your own water is recommended. You can sign up for a visit here.

The U.S. Poet Laureate from 2010-2011, he’s also won two Pulitzers and a National Book Award. William Stanley Merwin was also an environmentalist and a Buddhist, and I adore his work – both his writing and his conservation.

If you do not know his poetry, I encourage you to explore and delve into his work.

He died in May 2019, and here’s the New York Times obituary which includes some of his best poems.

In 2016, PBS’ American Masters broadcast a beautiful – I mean stunning – documentary about W.S. Merwin – “Even Though the Whole World Is Burning.” Here is a 7-minute excerpt from the award-winning film  (Note that they no longer need donations to finish)

Here is a short New Yorker article about the documentary.

You can rent or buy the full film to watch here and the 54 minute edited version that aired on PBS here (for free if you are a member of your local PBS station and are a PBS Passport member).

And here is a lovely segment from the PBS Newshour about Merwin ::

You can read more about his life and support his conservation efforts here at the Merwin Conservancy.

Few writers in the American literary canon are connected as closely to place as W.S. Merwin is to his garden of palms on the island of Maui. Much like Henry David Thoreau at Walden Pond or Rachel Carson at her Cottage at the Edge of the Sea, two-time Pulitzer prize winning poet W.S. Merwin is indelibly tied to the valley that spoke to him for over four decades. 

It is with great sadness and a deep reverence that we said goodbye to William on March 15th. He leaves us all inspired to make the world around us a better place through word and deed, and to honor and conserve the natural world as the exquisite poem it is.

And watch his Ted Talk on “Connections” here ::

He was 91 when he passed on March 15, 2019.

I leave you with this ::

All the day the stars watch from long ago 
my mother said I am going now 
when you are alone you will be all right

– Rain Light (2008)
Full poem here

If you’re searching for travel inspiration or are ready to plan your next trip, let’s chat!



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