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Weeds and wildflowers

14 January 2009

Weeds and Wildflowers, a new collection of poetry written by Alice Oswald and illustrated by Jessica Greenman (BA 1988), has been published by Faber and Faber.

Weeds and Wildflowers, a new collection of poetry written by Alice Oswald and illustrated by Jessica Greenman (BA 1988), has been published by Faber and Faber.
 
The collaboration is the result of the pair’s mutual admiration and long-standing friendship. For Jessica Greenman it is ‘quite an unusual book’, both in that it is an illustrated fiction for adults, and also because of the unique nature of the collaboration. She explains that ‘we worked separately and together, but in a curious way. We had a lot of conversations. She sent me poems in batches, which I read. Then I'd go off and pick some flowers (or buy them) and bring them home and absorb them, draw them’.

The contention of the book, that ‘flowers are people and people are flowers’ is illustrated through the fact that some of the poems were written by Alice about Jessica. Jessica identified with this notion during the creative process in that as she was preparing her illustrations and keeping foxglove plants in her bathroom in order to draw them, she sometimes had the impression that they ‘really were just like people’.

This fantastical element is also present in the lives of the book’s creators. According to Jessica, ‘it is a fairy story really’, as when, having found one of Alice’s poems in the room of the man who was to be her future husband, she said to him ‘“Who is she? Marry her - you must - marry her immediately” - and he did’.

Weeds and Wild Flowers was selected as the Poetry Society Book choice for spring and has just been short-listed for the TS Eliot award.