Poetic plantwork practices: radical herbalist relationships with plants
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date16/06/2024
This project is about engagements between people and plants; namely those familiar plants that we call ‘herbs’ and those people - 'herbalists' - who cultivate intimate acquaintance with them. Looking to the praxes and pedagogies of Western herbal medicine in the British Isles and Ireland, it foregrounds those which emphasise working together with and learning from plants directly as knowledgeable and agential living beings with whom we are deeply ecologically entangled. These working relationships are explored as sites of poetic forms of practice, which practices are understood to constitute a quiet but potent challenge to EuroWestern paradigms of knowledge and world-relation. It contributes to recent plant scholarship which, drawing on the challenges brought by the post- and environmental humanities and discoveries from plant sciences, seeks to make space for plant realities within our thinking and explore their implications for our own. It also brings the practical expertise and knowledge of herbalists to the discussion, putting these two areas of exploration into dialogue. Its uptake of the poetic as a framework allows for the accommodation of herbalist-plant knowledge-in-relation and recognises the way that both fields (the poetic in its engagement of thought and language; herbalism in its interactions with plants) enact processes that (can) challenge and disrupt/destabilise the logical frameworks that underlie our cultural and socio-political paradigms. It chooses this framework as one that is appropriate to a EuroWestern cultural tradition and, in bringing these fields of practice to bear upon one another, seeks to explore this common disruptive potential and amplify it. In doing so, it hopes to learn something from herbalist practices of how to relate well to plant others in ways that accord with their - and, by extension, our own - ecological being.