The Merwin Conservancy’s mission is to preserve the living legacy of W. S. Merwin, his home and palm forest, for future retreat and study for botanists and writers, for environmental advocacy and community education.
The Literary Legacy – W. S. Merwin is one of the most influential and honored poets in modern American history. The author of more than 50 books of poetry, translation and prose, W. S. Merwin is the 17th Poet Laureate of the United States, a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and recipient of the National Book Award, among numerous other awards, decorations and honors. The Merwin Conservancy mission advances the literary legacy of W. S. Merwin by bringing his poetry and literary work into the community at large.
The Palm Collection & Palm Forest – Over the past 37 years, W. S. Merwin has created and cultivated an 18-acre palm tree botanical garden, creating one of the largest and most important collections of palms in the entire world. Boasting over 2,740 individual palm trees, representing over 400 taxonomic species and more than 125 unique genera, and featuring nearly 900 different horticultural varieties, the Merwin Palms and the land on which they live are truly Hawaii’s version of Walden Pond. The Merwin Conservancy mission preserves, protects and saves The Merwin Palm Collection and the land from any future development, forever, and allows for the scientific and botanical study of the palm species for future generations.
The Poet’s Home – Designed and built by W. S. Merwin, this “off-the-grid” home is a sustainable sanctuary surrounded by the natural beauty of The Merwin Palm Collection in Haiku, Hawaii. The Poet’s Home is a place where art and nature intersect. Many of the most famous poems and literary works authored by W. S. Merwin were written within these wooden clapboard walls. The mission of The Merwin Conservancy preserves The Poet’s Home with the goal of creating a location for the next generation of poets, artists and authors to walk in the footsteps of W. S. Merwin and imagine, create and write.
The Merwin Conservancy’s current projects include:
- The Merwin Palm Catalog and Database – Under the direction and leadership of the National Tropical Botanical Gardens, along with world renowned palm specialist, Dr. John Dransfield of the Royal Botanical Gardens Kew, The Merwin Conservancy has catalogued the entire Merwin Palm Collection, including identification, DNA vouchering, tagging and mapping of more than 2,740 palms. A comprehensive, scientific database has been created noting each and every specimen within the Merwin Palm Collection, along with its genus and species, and including its exact location within the garden forest via Global Positioning Systems and Google Earth technology. This project also includes expert analysis and recommendations that determine our future management, maintenance and expansion of the palm collection. A next step in the Merwin Palm Catalog and Database project will be making the database publicly available, and ultimately create a living, working resource for botanists, horticulturalists and palm specialists.
- The Permanent Conservation and Management of The Merwin Palm Collection – In partnership with the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust, and utilizing analysis and recommendations made by the National Tropical Botanical Gardens and by world palm specialist, Dr. John Dransfield, The Merwin Conservancy actively works to permanently conserve, protect and grow the Merwin Palm Collection; preserving forever the living legacy and environmental work of W. S. Merwin. The Conservancy and its partners actively steward, manage and maintain the land, the palms and the garden so this very special place, Maui’s version of Walden Pond, remains preserved and protected in perpetuity. The Merwin Palm Collection (and The Poet’s Home) were permanently protected and saved forever from any future development with a deed of conservation easement on October 10, 2014.
- The Poetry Lab – A space where readers may explore the language of poetry, dig deeper into the history of and inspirations for W. S. Merwin’s poems, and discover the connections between W. S. Merwin’s literary work and the questions, reflections and creations of others. The Poetry Lab shares projects, letters, and essays by, to and about W.S. Merwin, his many-faceted works and his storied literary career.
- The Green Room – The Green Room is The Merwin Conservancy’s dynamic literary salon series bringing the values of W. S. Merwin and The Merwin Conservancy into the community through a reverence for nature, art, language & imagination. The Green Room offers Maui residents and visitors a consciousness-raising, literary awakening; a forum for arts, ideas and diverse, creative expression. The Green Room features writers, poets, artists, musicians – from off-island and local – curating enriching, entertaining and intimate salons that will ideally spark conversation, community engagement, and innovation. Most of all, our aim is to delight, provoke and awaken the senses. The Green Room is generously presented by a sponsorship from the FIM Group.
- The Poem of the Week – A regular, weekly feature of The Merwin Conservancy website and social media channels where visitors and followers may read, review and reflect upon the poetry of W. S. Merwin. Through the “Poem of the Week” program, we are delivering the influential poetry of W. S. Merwin into the community at large.
- Palm Fact of the Week -A regular, weekly feature of The Merwin Conservancy website and social media channels where visitors and followers may take an up-close-and-personal look at the biodiversity of the Merwin Palm Collection. Through this series, we are exploring the uniqueness and great variety of species that make the Merwin Palm Forest so unique.
- Independent documentary, Even Though the Whole World is Burning, about the life and work of W.S. Merwin. Directed by Stefan Schaefer and produced by Williams Cole. Filmed in Maui, France, and New York City. The documentary has been edited down to a 1-hour version, and is broadcasting nationwide on PBS for Earth Day 2016.