by James Walsh
“This book was sparked by a simple thought — I wonder if there are any plants that grow in both the Arctic and New York City? There are quite a few, as it turns out, and I embarked on a project of discovering the Arctic by staying close to home and paying particular attention to the libraries and land around me, searching for whatever Arctic plants I could find here."
The Arctic Plants of New York City combines personal letters, poetry, prose essay, scholarly research, botanical exploration, and artistic investigation, and ranges from the Doctrine of Signatures to the sleep of plants, and from Jean-Jacques Rousseau and John Muir on mental travel to Giacomo Leopardi and Charles Baudelaire on the necessity of illusion for art and life.
Interspersed throughout the book are a number of two-page spreads that focus on a single plant, such as Common Mugwort, with a mounted botanical specimen of that plant surrounded by texts drawn from earlier writers on botany and set in verse, creating a field of word-objects interacting with plant-objects. The letters that open the book lead into a prose essay that touches on the souls of plants, their use in medicine and as spurs to mental travel, their transience, their migrations, their meaning. A bibliography lists the most essential works from the author's research and the book concludes with a reproduction of the index from Nicholas Polunin's Circumpolar Arctic Flora (1959), in which the author has marked in red pen the eighty-eight Arctic plants that occur in New York City.
Written, designed, and printed letterpress by James Walsh, with eighteen botanical specimens pressed and mounted by the author. Bound by Daniel Kelm at Wide Awake Garage.
The edition size is 40 copies of which 34 are for sale.