Plants and Poetics: A Panel Discussion (Noon March 31 on YouTube)

…featuring St. John’s own Professor Lee Ann Brown!

at University of Pennsylvania

Kelly Writers House:


Lee Ann Brown, Adjua Gargi Nzinga Greaves, Brenda Iijima, Mary Newell, and Evelyn Reilly

12:00 PM ET on YouTube

moderated by: Davy Knittle

Plants have long-standing importance in human life and in the human imaginary. In their study of metaphor in daily life, George Lakoff and Mark Johnson defined a number of conceptual metaphors that they claim underlie many thought processes. One of these, “People are plants,” is easy to spot in phrases such as “a budding artist,” “in the flower of youth,” “late bloomer,” or “gone to seed.” Such expressions are semi-conscious. How can we reclaim this deep relationship and honor it intentionally in our practices and vocalizations? As writers and artists concerned about the biosphere, we ask ourselves and our communities: What practices of culture, cultivation, and language support our interconnectedness with plants and release our green- and sap-blooded companions from cultural appropriation? How might the sundry manifestations of our intra-species friendships inform our desire for honorable, ethical, sustainable, and joyous inter-species companionship with members of floral communities? The panelists approach this topic through these lenses:

LEE ANN BROWN: To be infused with herbs/ healing plants and then to write under the herb’s influence

ADJUA GARGI NZINGA GREAVES: Living indoors with plants across space and time – folklore and histories of the twenty-six plant species I cohabitate with and their relationships to commonly housed plants in the Americas in the 20th and 21st centuries

BRENDA IIJIMA: Flora as witnesses to human animal activity through time and to other sentient presences. How to reckon with humans’ impacts on plant life, and the living relationships that plants intersect with and nourish, their inter-worlding capacity.

MARY NEWELL: Approaches toward gardening/ cultivation in cooperation with the biosphere, in contrast to actions of dominance and imposition

EVELYN REILLY: The many ways plants inhabit our conscious and liminal mental landscapes—dream trees and flowers, planetary imaginary forests, superorganismic sublimities—and resulting visions, nostalgias, insomnias

These approaches will intersect and fugue with one another in our discussions.

About Steve Mentz 1265 Articles
I teach Shakespeare and the blue humanities at St. John's in New York City.

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