A musical celebration of the garden, from chaff to grass, and all of its lowly weeds, herbs, and creatures
Sylvia Legris’s Garden Physic is a paean to the pleasures and delights of one of the world’s most cherished pastimes: Gardening!
“At the center of the garden the heart,” she writes, “Red as any rose. Pulsing / balloon vine. Love in a puff.” As if composed out of a botanical glossolalia of her own invention, Legris’s poems map the garden as body and the body as garden—her words at home in the phytological and anatomical—like birds in a nest. From an imagined love-letter exchange on plants between garden designer Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson to a painting by Agnes Martin to the medicinal discourse of the first-century Greek pharmacologist Pedanius Dioscorides, Garden Physic engages with the anaphrodisiacs of language with a compressed vitality reminiscent of Louis Zukofsky’s “80 Flowers.” In muskeg and yard, her study of nature bursts forth with rainworm, whorl of horsetail, and fern radiation—spring beauty in the lines, a healing potion in verse.
About the Author
Sylvia Legris was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and now lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Her poems have appeared in the New Yorker, Conjunctions, and Granta, and her third collection of poetry, Nerve Squall, won the 2006 Griffin Poetry Prize.
Bookish gardeners will delight in this playful modern-day florilegium. — Publishers Weekly
For Legris, the sum of life is not necessarily sense, story, or quanta but is also a strange summation of unknowing. — Shane Neilson - Poetry
Over the past twenty years, Canadian poet Sylvia Legris has quietly built a remarkable, multilayered body of work worthy of deep exploration and appreciation. An artist of relentless evolution and experimentation, Legris’ poetics compress and expand, infusing elements of dance, botany, and human machinery into new structures and imagery that is at once wildly imaginative and deeply visceral. — Taylor Davis-Van Atta - Music & Literature
Pulsing with secretions and excretions, her poetry saturates our imagination and invigorates our curiosity. — Eleanor Chandler - Prac Crit
Garden Physic is the author’s best book in a so-far stellar career.
— Jonathan Ball - Winnipeg Free Press
Using florid language and poetic verse, Garden Physic revels in the pleasures of nature, weather and color — and how the garden functions as a place of growth and healing.
This is gardening on the level of Hecate or Baba Yaga: sorcerous, numinous, cunningly manipulating the chemical elements of life and death. And in keeping with this magic, Legris’s love for language plays unbounded among the joys of the botanical lexicon. — Paul J. Pastor - Los Angeles Review of Books