Garden of Verses 2022: A Virtual Benefit for W.S. Merwinʻs Birthday

On Friday, September 30th at 12:00 pm Hawai‘i (3:00 pm Pacific, 6:00 pm Eastern), The Merwin Conservancy will gather virtually with friends around the world to celebrate the legacy of W.S. Merwin, on the occasion of his birthday.

Victoria ChangMeera DasguptaCamille DungyElizabeth KolbertLeland MiyanoCarol MoldawPádraig Ó TuamaBill Porter aka Red Pine, Barbara RasArthur Sze, and Terry Tempest Williams will read selections of William’s poetry.

We’ll weave these readings together with the unfolding story of the palm garden—a place where imagination has long thrived. We hope you will join us for an hour of poems, palms, and stories of The Merwin Conservancy’s work to tend and share a garden that speaks to the world.

Victoria Chang’s newest book of poetry, The Trees Witness Everything was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2022. Her poetry collection OBIT (Copper Canyon Press, 2020) won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the PEN Voelcker Award, and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Prize. OBIT was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Griffin Poetry Prize, and was long listed for the National Book Award. Chang is the Chair of Antioch University’s MFA in Creative Writing and is the poetry editor of the New York Times. She received a Guggenheim fellowship in 2017.

Meera Dasgupta is the 2020 United States Youth Poet Laureate. She is the youngest person to serve in this position, and the first Asian-American. A 2020 United Nations Global Goals Ambassador and Climate Speaks Winner, she is an advocate for climate action and gender equality. Meera was recently accepted to the University of Chicago and is committed to uplifting the voices of historically underrepresented communities.

Camille T. Dungy’s debut collection of personal essays, Guidebook to Relative Strangers (W. W. Norton, 2017) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is also the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Trophic Cascade (Wesleyan UP, 2017), winner of the Colorado Book Award. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2019, and received fellowships from the Sustainable Arts Foundation, and the NEA in both poetry and prose. She is a Professor in the English Department at Colorado State University.

Elizabeth Kolbert is a journalist and author, and a staff writer for The New Yorker. She is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History (Henry Holt & Company, 2014), Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future (Penguin Random House, 2021) and Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change (Bloomsbury, 2006). Kolbert is a fellow at Williams College, at the Center for Environmental Studies. She has received two National Magazine Awards, and the Blake-Dodd Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Leland Miyano is an artist, landscape designer and author born and raised in Hawaiʻi. The Honolulu Biennial Foundation awarded him the first Golden Hibiscus Award in 2019. Leland is celebrated locally for his one-acre Kahaluʻu garden, for the gardens he designed at the Contemporary Museum, and for his statewide sculptural commissions.

Carol Moldaw is an award-winning poet and author, most recently of Beauty Refracted (Four Way Books). Her eighth book, Go Figure, will also be published by Four Way Books in 2024. The recipient of a NEA Creative Writing Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, and a Lannan Foundation Residency Fellowship, she is the author of five other books of poetry. Carol’s work has been translated into Turkish, Chinese, and Portuguese. She was poet-in-residence at The Merwin Conservancy in 2022.

Poet, theologian, and conflict mediator, Pádraig Ó Tuama presents “Poetry Unbound” with On Being Studios. He is the author of the poetry collections Daily Prayer with the Corrymeela Community (2017), Sorry for Your Troubles (2013) and Readings from the Books of Exile (2012), all published by Canterbury Press in the United Kingdom. Working fluently on the page and with groups of people, his work has won acclaim in circles of poetry, politics, religion, psychotherapy and conflict analysis. His forthcoming book Poetry Unbound: 50 Poems to Open Your World, will be published in October 2022. 

Author Bill Porter translates under the pen-name Red Pine. He is a translator of Chinese texts, primarily Taoist and Buddhist, including poetry and sūtras. In 2011, he received a Guggenheim Fellowship to support work on a book based on a pilgrimage to the graves and homes of China’s greatest poets of the past, which was published under the title Finding Them Gone in 2016. He received the 2018 Thornton Wilder Prize for Translation from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He was a presenter in The Merwin Conservancyʻs Green Room series in 2017.

Barbara Ras is a poet, translator and publisher. She has written four collections of poetry, including The Blues of Heaven (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2021), The Last Skin (Penguin Books, 2010), One Hidden Stuff (Penguin Books, 2006), and Bite Every Sorrow (Louisiana State University Press,1998). In addition to a Guggenheim Fellowship, she has received fellowships from the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Artist Foundation of San Antonio, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She has taught at writing programs across the country, served on the faculty of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, and was the Founding Director of Trinity University Press.

Arthur Sze is a poet, translator, editor, and author of eleven books of poetry, including The Glass Constellation (Copper Canyon Press, 2021) and Sight Lines (Copper Canyon Press, 2019), which received the 2019 National Book Award in poetry. He is the recipient of a Lannan Literary Award, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Arthur  is a celebrated translator from the Chinese, and released The Silk Dragon: Translations from the Chinese (Copper Canyon Press) in 2001. He was poet-in-residence at The Merwin Conservancy in 2022.

Terry Tempest Williams is the author of numerous books, including the environmental literature classic, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place. Her most recent book The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks, was published in June 2016 to coincide with and honor the centennial of the National Park Service. Her writing has also appeared in The New YorkerThe New York TimesOrion Magazine, and numerous anthologies worldwide as a crucial voice for ecological consciousness and social change. She was writer-in-residence at Harvard Divinity School between 2017 and 2022, and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in creative nonfiction and a Lannan Literary Fellowship. Terry was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2019. She was a presenter in The Merwin Conservancyʻs Green Room series in 2015.