Photo: Lucinda Douglas-Menzies
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.
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.
Update (April 2016):
My new collection of poems Reading the Flowers is now out from Arc and I am currently reviewing the manuscript of Botanical Road, a non-fiction travel memoir charting 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.