James Wright
W.S. Merwin is green as U.S. poet laureate
W.S. Merwin is green as U.S. poet laureate

Reporting from Maui — We've been batting our way through W.S. Merwin's yard for a couple hours, swatting mosquitoes in the streambed under the dark wet canopy of towering, philodendron-draped mangoes and looking at some 700 species of palm trees, every one of which he has planted by hand. He stops to touch them, saying things like, "Oh, this is Carpoxylon macrocarpa; they were thought to be extinct on Madagascar, but here it is." Many of these trees are exceptionally rare. Then he pulls up in front of a short broad palm, rather unimpressive next to the other trees on his property on Maui's northern shore, but he smiles as he fondles the leaf. ...