Midsummer. And the lawn’s a-buzz with clover flowers and bees.
On August 2nd 2011 John Handley and Nadia Kingsley measure out a 2 metre square of her lawn – just outside Bridgnorth, in Shropshire – with string and bamboo canes.
Then, on hands and knees, with a “times 10″ lens in hand, they methodically work their way through the small square area, and John identifies and describes the eleven species present.
Nadia then writes a poem about each species.
“By bending down to their level I saw a whole new landscape. Having an expert by my side drew my attention to details I would otherwise have missed. I feel privileged – to have written about such small but essential plants – and have learned a lot, along the way, thanks to John, and the plants themselves.
It is a square pamphlet and includes a magnifier – because Lawn Lore is a condensed version of what we experienced that day. ”
Even its name:
the Common Mouse Ear
suggests no use for man.
Even the description:
Five deeply-notched petals
backed by green sepals.
Hairy stems and leaves.
Ubiquitous in grazed grassland.
But I like to bend right down to honour
its small white flowers, to stroke
its fur-lined leaves and know it will be waiting,
six months of every year, for insect visitation.
How lovely! a perfect gem of a book
Katherine Swift (author of The Morville Hours, The Morville Year, creator and custodian of the Dower House Gardens, Shropshire. She is currently working on a sequel, A Rose for Morville.)
A brilliant, original and charming little pamphlet
Keith Chandler (poetry collections published by Carcanet, Peterloo, Redbeck, O.U.P. His poem gained fourth place in National Poetry Competition 2013)
I love its size and the detail and delicacy of the poems, and the fact that it is hand-stitched and is accompanied by its own lens! It’s beautiful
Katrina Porteous (Poet, historian and broadcaste. Published by Bloodaxe and many others.)
It is intriguing to read through the little magnifying glass. I liked the Veronica poem best. It is a handsome production and will make people look more closely and investigate for themselves
Roger Garfitt (His autobiography, The Horseman’s Word (Cape), was published in April 2011. Carcanet have published three previous collections of his poetry, most recently Given Ground (Poetry Book Society Recommendation, 1989)
Gary Longden (Poet, Performer, Poetry Reviewer)
Lawn Lore is a wonderful poetry pamphlet borne out of a brilliant idea. Nadia lives in the countryside in a rural idyll in Shropshire, but with imperfect grass on her lawn.
One day she was moved to ask a friend who specialises in grasses to examine a two metre square quadrat. This involved them both considering in close detail that which previously would have gone unnoticed, and unremarked upon. This work was created from that fresh perspective.
The eleven poems themselves are written in deliberately small print, so small, that unless the reader possesses the eyesight of a teenage sniper, magnification is required. Nadia helpfully supplies a magnifier with the pamphlet so the reader may study more closely her words, as she considered more closely her lawn. A delightful detail is that each beautifully presented copy is handstitched with a green thread.
As well as being a poet, Nadia is also a scientist and her poems reflect the style of a scientific report, yet the writing is of joyous celebratory discovery. They also consider place, Here considers how Perennial Rye is selected for Rugby pitches for its hard wearing qualities, yet her garden offers sanctuary from mankinds’ need to control and manipulate.
Each grass is introduced by its Latin name encouraging the reader once more to explore further, exploration being the key theme of Lawn Lore. Ranunculus Repens is the last poem, and amongst the most satisfying, juxtaposing the childs’ tradition of using its flower to determine a liking for butter from its reflection and its poisonous qualities- it all depends how you look at it, doesn’t it?
The premise for Lawn Lore is startlingly imagined and lovingly executed in a manner that will delight poets and botanists alike, as it did me, published by Fairacre Press.