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Palm is inspired by the life and work of the American poet W.S. Merwin, and meditates on Merwin’s capacity to invoke in his readers a sense of the wakefulness of the world. Merwin is not only a celebrated poet, having won nearly every major poetry award, including the appointment of poet laureate, he is also a visionary gardener and environmentalist. Over 30 years ago, Merwin embraced a piece of certified wasteland in Hawaii, and, along with his wife Paula, tree-by-tree grew one of the most abundant and species-rich palm gardens in the world—a garden that aspires to be a forest, as Merwin has put it.
In this installation, artist duo Susannah Sayler and Edward Morris, in collaboration with Ian Boyden, make an analogy between gardening of the sort Merwin undertook on his land in Maui and writing. For Merwin, both activities were infused with a spirit of contemplation and awareness profoundly shaped by Merwin’s practice of Zen Buddhism. The installation is the museum’s first commissioned artwork and was made possible by support from The Poetry Foundation and additional support from The Merwin Conservancy.
For more information, see the Official Press Release.
On the Road, Jack Kerouac’s novel about two friends crisscrossing the U.S. in search of adventure, was first published in 1957. Its impact was immediate and profound. The book that so many readers came to cherish began as a sprawling manuscript scroll. And before the scroll, On the Road was a story Kerouac himself lived, journeying across America and Mexico for three years. Get an up-close look at Kerouac’s original scroll and learn the stories behind the writing of this iconic novel.
In order to accommodate a continuous stream of typing, Kerouac created this scroll from several rolls of tracing paper. He taped the ends of the paper together to make a giant roll, which he then trimmed to fit into his typewriter. With the scroll loaded into the typewriter, Kerouac spent three weeks straight typing an early version of On the Road, “letting the subconscious express itself in its own way.” He added, “I let the words flow out in uninterrupted waves, half awake, hardly knowing what I was doing except that I was writing”
This manuscript and accompanying digital file are on loan from the collection of James S. Irsay.
© Estate of Anthony G. Sampatacacus and the Estate of Jan Kerouac.