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The Sweet Breathing of Plants: Women Writing on the Green World [Paperback]

Linda Hogan , Brenda Peterson
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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New Adult Fiction by Rainbow Rowell
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Book Description

February 21, 2002 086547625X 978-0865476257 Reprint
A bumper crop of the best writing by women on women and 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.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The second volume in Hogan and Peterson's trilogy on women and the natural world (following Intimate Nature: The Bond Between Women and Animals), this meditative, conscientious collection of 39 poems and essays ranges from personal to scientific entries written by women from all walks of life (including expected names, like Rachel Carson, Diane Ackerman, Kathleen Norris and Alice Walker, as well as more offbeat choices, like Isabel Allende and Zora Neale Hurston). Allende's tribute to her native Chile, from where she brought soil and forget-me-nots to replant in exile, is particularly moving, as is the wry poem Mulch by Linda Hasselstrom (Windbreak), in which the poet imagines that a biodegradable mash of photos, bills and old love letters keeps her garden free of weeds. Some pieces are light and sociable, like Sharman Apt Russell's essay on the mores of flower giving, while others are deliberate acts of feminist consciousness raising, such as psychologist Jeanne Achterberg's sociopolitical history of female homeopaths in medieval Europe who were murdered because of their seemingly magical remedies. Marine biologist Sylvia Earle takes readers on a walk on the ocean floor; Anita Endrezze compels us to admire kernels of corn as she memorializes her Mexican Indian heritage; biochemist Linda Jean Shepherd enjoins others to consider the ecological value of weeds. Not merely for nature lovers, this provocative collection ranks with the best anthologies of women's writing. Agents, Elizabeth Wales and Beth Vesel.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Editors Hogan (Mean Spirit) and Peterson (see Build Me an Ark, reviewed on p. 00) here collect more than three dozen pieces of nonfiction and poetry celebrating women's relationships with plants. Susan Orlean discusses the diversity of orchids, Isabel Allende explains the language of flowers, and Jeanne Achterberg tells of women healers and their persecution as witches. The selections include "Earth's Green Mantle," a chapter from Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, and a passage from Sandra Steingraber showing that things haven't changed all that much since that book's publication. Sharon Bertsch McGrayne writes about Nobel Prize-winning geneticist Barbara McClintock, and veterinarian Donna Kelleher tells how she cured a canary using herbs. These are just a sampling of the diverse selections, which share scientific discoveries, the indigenous knowledge of native women, and the personal connection some women have with plants. Complete citations to the excerpts included would have helped. Recommended for libraries whose patrons enjoy natural history and science anthologies.DSue O'Brien, Downers Grove P.L., IL
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: North Point Press; Reprint edition (February 21, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 086547625X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865476257
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #93,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last a feminine book on plants! June 22, 2001
By A Customer
To be honest, I never really considered myself a "plantswoman," just a dabbler when it came to gardening. But then I read this amazing collection of stories (with a few poems) and realized how much plants infuence my life--from sourdough "mold" to the herbal supplements I use as medicine, to the woods outside the backdoor of my childhood home.
This is a very inspirational, accessible, and occasionally playful book. Above all else, it is excellently written. Thank you author Trish Maharam for that beautiful essay "Plantswoman." It taught me that woman do have their place in the green world no matter how unsophisticated they are in their plant knowledge, "it's the relationship that matters."
I highly recommend this book to women everywhere.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book of wisdom..... September 16, 2001
THE SWEET BREATHING OF PLANTS should be required reading for high school and early college classes covering the natural world. I'm a big fan of essays, books, etc. written by naturalists, and SBP is one of the best collections of essays I've come across. The editors, Linda Hogan and Brenda Peterson have included the works of leading scientists such as Rachel Carson and Jane Goodall, but they've gone beyond the tried and true and compiled a collection of essays by many other scientists, naturalists, veternarians, and very wise women including Susan Orlean who recently produced THE ORCHID THEIF.
The golden rule of nature seems to be cooperation, not competion. SCIENCE magazine once published an article entitled "Nature Red in Tooth and Claw" and while a good deal of consumption takes place in the natural world, symbiosis is far more important. Nature is bigger than the "survival of the fittest." Many plants and animals have symbiotic relationships. I think my favorite example is the dandelion which pulls calcium to the surface which allows other plants to thrive. In the plant world, having a dandelion for a neighbor can be a good thing good.
Native Americans in the Amazon riverine forests have not lost touch with nature. They understand that partially submerged trees feed the fish, and that they must build their gardens in the forest and away from the river banks which are exposed in the dry season. Contrast this attitude with that of the inhabitants of the Sierra who are felling trees in old growth forests as fast as they can. The regrowth is never the same. As one writer who used to work for the U.S. Forest service explains, the name of the game is to replace the living forest with a single tree. Monoculture seems to be more economically sound.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sweet Breathing of Plants... January 29, 2005
... is a collection of essays about nature written by women. I found it quite amazing. There's a mix of poems, essays, stories, and an overall sharing of how these women, and women of the past relate to plants, and the natural world in general. i found the most moving essay to be the one by Paula Gunn Allen. She discusses how we are all part of the Earth's initiation process, from a young lady to a wise women. It helps put into perspective some of the percieved degradation to the environment. How can a human, which is part of the earth, and nature, do something that is unnatural? It is impossible! Linda Shepherd's "My Life with Weed" was great. Mary Crow Dog's "peyote" gives a history of native american's spiritual practices with peyote, which was also entertaining. Trish Maharam's "Plantswomen' and Laura Foreman's "for the maples" were also great, to name a few.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable collections of singularly unique essays April 11, 2002
Collaboratively edited by Linda Hogan and Brenda Peterson, The Sweet Breathing Of Plants is a gentle and remarkable collections of singularly unique essays about the relationship between women and plants, interdependent upon one another for life since prehistory. From "The Language of Flowers" to "The Flooded Forest," each individual treatise significantly contributes an unusual and memorable insight to the wondrous whole in this spiritually moving and deeply meaningful metaphysical anthology.
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