New poetry from Molly Kugel marries herbology and grief.
It could be said that in this age, the Anthropocene, we cannot discuss mourning without also mourning the earth. As poet and essayist Helen McDonald put it: To talk about nature is to open yourself up to constant grief. By marrying two seemingly dissimilar texts within vastly different disciplines, the 18th and 19th century herbarium, as well as a bereavement manual, the book attempts to discuss grief, the grief the speaker experiences over the death of her brother at a young age and the recent death of her father. To make sense of the cyclical nature of life and to seek answers, the speaker turns to the natural world, as well as turning to the women who came before her, the naturalists and artists who were endlessly mesmerized by the world around them, experiencing wonder and awe within the botanical and all of nature, understanding a biocentric unity, attempting to warn us.
Molly Kugel has written a necessary work for the moment, this very moment of danger: 'In the meantime, as the world is burning...we must take stock.' Kugel has learned from Emily Dickinson as well as Rachel Carson what a wonder and danger it is we live in. And this is a deeply personal kind of seeing being celebrated. She offers a book of observations about observing, about how the science of the world and the mourning of it are connected--no book I know ties so intimately, well, intimacy, to the fate of the natural world so devastatingly as does GROUNDCOVER.--Bin Ramke, author of Earth on Earth