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Brenda Peterson on Women Writing on the Green World

The Sweet Breathing of Plants

Brenda Peterson talks with Jim Fleming and reads several selections from “The Sweet Breathing of Plants: Women Writing on the Green World” — the anthology she edited with Linda Hogan.  We hear excerpts from the work of both editors, Isabel Allende and poet Naomi Shihab Nye.

The Sweet Breathing of Plants

Since prehistory, plants--as sources of food, medicine, clothing, beauty, and life itself--have been the province of women. Yet no previous book has attempted to bring together the rich literature this husbandry has inspired. This burgeoning collection amply addresses that lack, with more than three dozen selections of nonfiction and poetry.

As in Intimate Nature, their previous anthology on women and animals (edited with Deena Metzger), Linda Hogan and Brenda Peterson illuminate their subject from a range of perspectives. Here are curranderas and craftswomen whose legacy of plant wisdom safeguards our connection to the green world; botanists and geneticists; and visionaries like Rachel Carson, who show us the world--and our power to protect or destroy it--in a blade of grass. Here are Zora Neale Hurston on voodoo herbs, Sharman Apt Russell on the perfume of plants, Annick Smith on huckleberries, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas on the Everglades' "river of grass," Isabel Allende on the language of flowers, Susan Orleans on "Orchid Fever," Diane Ackerman on the rain forest, and Kathleen Norris on "Dreaming of Trees." Here is an eloquent "ode to mold," a paean to mulch, an elegy for elders. Here is a book that celebrates an ancient and ongoing relationship in a new and appealing way.


Praise for The Sweet Breathing of Plants
"Dazzling, it will captivate readers of all ages."
--Kirkus Reviews
"A rich and diverse anthology Each of [women's] interconnected forms of appreciation and expertise is represented here in essays both lyric and bracing -- Powerful, world-changing voices from the past elevate this fertile collection to truly impressive heights."
"The Sweet Breathing of Plants is a fine celebration of both women's writing and the natural world. From the fragrant, delicate orchid to the tough and stubborn tumbleweed, here is vegetal life in all its rich and nourishing variousness: its politics and passions, its science, history, and mythologies, and the mint-steeped essence of its nostalgias."
--Jane Brox, author of Five Thousand Days Like This One
"Rooted in place, lacking a decipherable language, encased in shapes unlike our own, plants seem so foreign that we often forget the tie that binds us. The voices gathered in The Sweet Breathing of Plants not only remind us of it, but bring the wisdom and mystery of other lives into our own."
--Susan Tweit, author of Seasons on the Pacific Coast and City Foxes