Anne LeClaire’s A Cape Eye On Books Takes On Gardening For May

CL Fornari in her garden

CL Fornari in her garden

The lavender plants are shooting up and soon I will be knee deep in the beds, snipping fragrant sprigs while bees circle my head and hands, bringing to mind, as they always do, a conversation I had with the late poet Stanley Kunitz several years ago.

I spent a morning with Stanley talking and strolling through his Provincetown garden. He told me that he had constructed the beds fronting Commercial Street as if stanzas of a poem. As we walked around the property, honeybees buzzed by us.

“Don’t worry about them,” he said. “Their occupation sweetens their disposition.”

I’ve never quite thought about these insects the same way.

I was impressed that day, and later while reading his work, by how often he used gardening as a metaphor for writing and for life. In “The Wild Braid: A Poet Reflects On A Century In The Garden,” Kunitz writes, “The compost pile is a site of transformation, taking what has been cast off and returning it to the garden. It’s not just garbage, after all.”

In the beds, he told me, we must prune and edit constantly, take out what no longer works.

“We must be ruthless in the task,” he said. “The same way we must be ruthless cutting what doesn’t work from a poem. Or a story.”

Like Kunitz, many writers and poets are drawn to working the earth, among them Edna St. Vincent Millay, Goethe, E. B. White and, perhaps most famously, Vita Sackville-West. As this month’s Featured Author C.L. Fornari remarked during our recent conversation, there is a whole creative thing about gardening: color, form, engaging all the senses that also holds true of writing.

I hope you will join me in the coming weeks to learn more about C.L. and to meet our Featured Book Store, Eight Cousins in Falmouth.

I hope, too, that you will join our conversation.


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Anne LeClaire

Anne LeClaire

— Anne LeClaire is the best-selling author of eight novels, the latest of which is “The Lavender Hour.” A Cape Eye On Books is’s online book club.

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