90th Birthday Tribute to W.S. Merwin

August 22, 2017, 3:38 PM HST · Updated August 22, 3:49 PM
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The Merwin Conservancy presents an evening in tribute to US Poet Laureate, translator, environmentalist, and 40-year Maui resident W.S. Merwin, whose peerless literary gifts have inspired millions and have consistently broken new ground in the world of poetry.  The celebration of W.S. Merwin’s 90th birthday will take place on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017.

W.S. Merwin was born in New York City in 1927 and was the U.S. Poet Laureate in 1999 and 2010. He won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1971 and 2009. He graduated from Princeton University in 1948, where he studied with John Berryman and R.P. Blackmur. His first book of poetry, A Mask for Janus (1952) was selected by W.H. Auden for the Yale Younger Poets Prize. Since then, Merwin has written dozens of books of poetry and prose, and translated dozens more from French, Spanish, Latin, Japanese and Portuguese. His work embodies a bold commitment to experimentation and transformation rooted in the moral necessity of bearing witness, and is influenced by his profoundly environmentalist, pacifist, and anti–imperialist beliefs. He has won many awards, as well as fellowships from the Rockefeller and the Guggenheim Foundations and the National Endowment for the Arts. Merwin’s most recent books include Garden Time (2016), The Moon Before Morning (2014), The Shadow of Sirius (2008), The Book of Fables (2007), and Present Company (2005). He married Paula, the love of his life and co-founder of The Merwin Conservancy, in 1983.

The evening will feature a conversation with celebrated poet Edward Hirsch of the Guggenheim Foundation and Merwin’s longtime editor, Michael Wiegers of Copper Canyon Press and other special guests.

This installment of The Green Room, an environmental and literary salon series on Maui that is hosted by the Conservancy, begins at 7 p.m. in the McCoy Theater at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 per person, with a $10 student rate available with valid student I.D.

The State of Hawaiʻi will also be present, issuing a Gubernatorial Proclamation proclaiming Sept. 30, 2017, as “W.S. Merwin Day” in Hawaiʻi and presenting Merwin with a special Gubernatorial Commendation for his life-long achievements.

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“W.S. Merwin’s meaningful, positive impact on the world, both locally here on Maui and globally through his poetry, is undeniable. We are excited to honor and pay tribute to him, on the occasion of his 90th birthday,” said The Merwin Conservancy’s Executive Director Jason Denhart.

“To make it truly memorable, we are absolutely thrilled to welcome renowned poet Edward Hirsch, and Michael Wiegers, whose support of Mr. Merwin’s poetic works and of his vision for the Conservancy has been unwavering. This will be a truly unforgettable evening, and we look forward to seeing the Maui at the event,” said Denhart.

The presentation will be followed by a courtyard reception with dessert, champagne, and live musical entertainment. This event is generously presented by FIM Group. Ticket proceeds benefit the nonprofit Merwin Conservancy.

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