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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.
The Kerouac scroll is the iconic 120-foot-long sheet of paper on which Jack Kerouac wrote the modern classic On The Road. Jack Kerouac reportedly typed the scroll in three weeks, after years of planning and early drafts. On the Road, and the way in which it was produced, is representative of the Beat Generation and their characteristic rejection of societal norms. The Beat poets gave voice to a revolutionary minority, and Jack Kerouac embodied those ideals. The scroll itself exemplifies the frantic pace of the Beat Generation, and preserves a sense of the covert: the original ending was eaten by a dog, and all that remains is a ragged edge.
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.