Mr. Merwin on Poetry and environmental activism as posted by Brigitte Perreault
Brigitte Perreault to WS-Merwin
BP: Buddhism’s influence
You have been a student of Buddhism for many, many years and still spend time in meditation every day. Planting palm trees, writing poetry, tending a garden are meditation in action. How has your practice informed your life?
WM: Practice is attention to one’s own mind, and necessarily informs every
aspect of my life.
BP: Ecological issues
Elizabeth Kolbert writes of the ‘Sixth Extinction’. Your poem ‘For a Coming Extinction’ was written in 1967. Do you still grow seed sand plant a tree? Is another poem forthcoming?
WM: I no longer cultivate seeds, due to my poor eyesight. I do still plant a few trees. I have never known when or if there would be another poem. They come from the unknown.
In our era of technological dependence and obsession, do you still write with a
BP: The future of the Conservancy
How will the Merwin Conservancy create a space for young poets and artists in which they can pursue their creative visions?
WM: We are working out connections with the community, with a series of poets, writers and naturalists who come and give talks and readings.
BP: PERREAULT Magazine
What would you like to tell our readers to inspire them to ‘get involved’?
Would you like to tell them with a poem?
WM: I would love it if The Merwin Conservancy led visitors to think, “I could do something like this,” and they began by planting a tree. I hope that all my poems
encourage people to feel an intimate relation with every other form of life.
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