Photo: Lucinda Douglas-Menzies
Hello and welcome to Botanical!
I started this blog ten years ago and an awful lot seems to have happened in the past decade. My main preoccupation now is with my role as Climate Writer with New Writing North and Newcastle University and the thinking, writing and connections that continue to arise from that. Coming up to the end of my third and final year, there’s a certain sense of taking stock in the air and a desire to cross the threshold into a new incarnation.
Meanwhile you can read more about Writing the Climate here and in various of my blog posts, which tend to be somewhat wayward and idiosyncratic – a place for thinking aloud and connecting with others.
Having successfully completed my PhD, I am embarking on a new challenge – as Climate Writer for Newcastle University and New Writing North. There are a series of events planned for the coming year as I work towards a new piece of writing of my own looking at the pressing subject of Climate Change and how it affects us all.
You can read more here. I’ll also be continuing my thinking aloud on this blog and on Instagram – @lindafrancebooksandplants. Even if you’re not signed up to IG, you can access my images via my website.
October 25th 2017
My work on plants has developed into a wider consideration of landscape, nature and culture. I’m currently engaged in a Creative Practice-based PhD at Newcastle University, looking at ‘Women on the Edge of Landscape’ – particularly concerned with Susan Davidson’s landscape design at Allen Banks and Margaret Rebecca Dickinson’s botanical watercolours in the Natural History Society of Northumbria’s Archive at the Great North Museum – two Victorian women who I’d like to see better known.
The PhD process is immersive and demanding so I won’t be posting on a regular basis – just when I have space and something to say. Thanks to all those of you who have stayed in touch while I am often occupied elsewhere.
My new collection of poems Reading the Flowers is now out from Arc, sparked by my journey in and out of fourteen Botanic Gardens across the globe.
These poems are sensuous, disciplined, earthy and deeply knowledgeable – a knowledge worn close to the skin. Musical and exceptionally eloquent, they glow. The journey of ‘Reading the Flowers’ brought me almost unimaginably close to the wonders conveyed: “As near to kin as you’ll ever be” (‘Through the Turnstile Gate’).
‘Reading the Flowers’ is a book to read and reread. By sticking to her subject – not just the flowers of the title but also trees and grass and the insects and birds, and humans who interact with them – Linda France has created a collection of poems as various and extraordinary and marvellous as the creations of nature it celebrates. It is a work of scholarship and imagination and precise observation: learned, sexy, witty, personal and moving. The poems are as perfect as poems can be: their language rich and seductive and exquisitely judged. They sing in the way poems should.
Seen with careful attention and gentle respect, the world – of people, land, as well as plants – is flowering. However it takes a poet to take us through that process on a page. So skilfully! In ‘Reading The Flowers’, the world returns from being ‘it’ to ‘you’. There’s the pleasure of well-crafted words of course, but also an invitation to participate in the everyday magic of meeting.
From Autumn 2012 I’m going to be tracking my botanical journey – in and out of poetry and plants. I’m particularly interested in exploring Botanic Gardens, acknowledging their important role in protecting the future of the plants that make life possible on our planet. My other concerns are plant medicine and principles of connectedness. At this stage I don’t know the whole story or where my current preoccupations will take me. If you’re interested in joining me while I find out, do sign up to follow the blog. I’m also keen to hear your responses and comments as I go.
Linda, I read about your book Botanical, but have been unable to find it on the web. Should your journeys bring you to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, FL, we would be interested in discussing your giving a book reading.
Hello there, Lin. Thanks for the kind invitation. There is no book called ‘Botanical’ at the moment! I am just at the beginning of writing what I hope will be a book on the subject of plants and botanic gardens – but it may turn out to be quite a different book from what I’ve imagined and have quite a different title. Keep an eye on my journey here and in a year or two maybe I’ll have a book to bring to Florida. Your garden does sound wonderful.
This is an interesting project Linda. Best wishes. Colin Will
best wishes from me too! I have a wonderful young (and handsome!) Italian gardener helping me in my garden who knows all about the Padua garden. He is here restoring the old walled garden of NewBold House here in Forres back to it’s former glory love solasan
I’m very interested in your poetry; the fact that you live in an area where my ancestors, the Dixons of Ingoe and Alnham lived. William Dixon wrote down the first notation of the tune Bobby Shaftoe (for the Border pipes) in the 1750s. I’ve done so much research on the family in the 1700s that I feel I live there myself!
I lived in Leeds for 11 years, but was involved in music then. Again, a connection!
I also taught English.
I’m interested in your trips to Sydney and Singapore- I am going to both destinations shortly and will plan to visit the Botanical Gardens now, on your recommendation.
I too have won national and international poetry competitions, some years ago, but have only started writing again. I publish my work in a Poetry section on my site. The older work has already been in small magazines, but the newer work I just put on wordpress.
You have done so much, clearly and I admire you for that and find you inspirational.
I’d love to come to one of your workshops/ courses some time.