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Global Health

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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.

BP: Technology
In our era of technological dependence and obsession, do you still write with a

WM: Yes.

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.

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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