Our Islands, Our Future

“Poetry,” as the late Maui resident W.S. Merwin said, “is a way of looking at the world for the first time.” These oft-quoted words have come alive again for Sonnet Kekilia Coggins, Executive Director of The Merwin Conservancy. In recent days she has come to think of The Conservancy as a poem, a space distinct and discrete in form, elusive and inexhaustible in content. The Merwin Conservancy inspires innovation in the arts and sciences by advancing the ideas of W.S. Merwin and his palm forest── as fearless and graceful examples of the power of imagination and renewal. “It is a place of agency, evolution, and possibilities beyond its own imagining,” Coggins said. “A walk here in this poetic place, particularly in the company of the writers, artists, and scientists who come to dwell here for a time, is most certainly a way of looking at the world anew.”

The Green Room Series, offering sparking conversations about language, nature, and imagination, are back in-person at the Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center in Makawao after a long hiatus. Thanks in part to funding from the Hawaii Council for the Humanities, The Conservancy also produced a virtual walk through W.S. Merwin’s palm garden. Moreover, the garden is now open again once a month to the public. The Conservancy has hosted creative writing classes from UH and looks forward to hosting Maui County school groups again.

“We are happy to share the experience of this place across the islands, the continent, and the world,” Coggins noted. “As we are mid-way through 2023, I look back at the first full year of The Artists in Residency Program. It has been such a great way to continue the vibrant creative life of the house and garden that Merwin created here. It is not only for writers, but all kinds of people who, like Merwin, can see beyond the present moment and see into things that are possible. The imagination is an essential key to solve problems and envision new ways for the future, so it is natural that this program supports the people who do that across all aspects of the arts and sciences.”

We are grateful to all our special guests. May this place open the world around you, ahead of you, and under your feet. Sonnet Kekilia Coggins, Executive Director, W.S. Merwin Conservancy