Garden Physic (Paperback)

Garden Physic By Sylvia Legris Cover Image
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A musical celebration of the garden, from chaff to grass, and all of its lowly weeds, herbs, and creatures

Sylvia Legris’s Garden Physic is a paean to the pleasures and delights of one of the world’s most cherished pastimes: Gardening!

      “At the center of the garden the heart,” she writes, “Red as any rose. Pulsing / balloon vine. Love in a puff.” As if composed out of a botanical glossolalia of her own invention, Legris’s poems map the garden as body and the body as garden—her words at home in the phytological and anatomical—like birds in a nest. From an imagined love-letter exchange on plants between garden designer Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson to a painting by Agnes Martin to the medicinal discourse of the first-century Greek pharmacologist Pedanius Dioscorides, Garden Physic engages with the anaphrodisiacs of language with a compressed vitality reminiscent of Louis Zukofsky’s “80 Flowers.” In muskeg and yard, her study of nature bursts forth with rainworm, whorl of horsetail, and fern radiation—spring beauty in the lines, a healing potion in verse.

About the Author

Sylvia Legris was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Her collection Garden Physic was chosen as one of the Best Poetry Books of the Year by The (London) Times and CBC/Radio-Canada. Her other poetry collections include The Hideous Hidden, Pneumatic Antiphonal, and Nerve Squall, winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize and the Pat Lowther Award. She lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Praise For…

Bookish gardeners will delight in this playful modern-day florilegium.
— Publishers Weekly

For Legris, the sum of life is not necessarily sense, story, or quanta but is also a strange summation of unknowing.
— Shane Neilson - Poetry

Over the past twenty years, Canadian poet Sylvia Legris has quietly built a remarkable, multilayered body of work worthy of deep exploration and appreciation. An artist of relentless evolution and experimentation, Legris’ poetics compress and expand, infusing elements of dance, botany, and human machinery into new structures and imagery that is at once wildly imaginative and deeply visceral.
— Taylor Davis-Van Atta - Music & Literature

Pulsing with secretions and excretions, her poetry saturates our imagination and invigorates our curiosity.
— Eleanor Chandler - Prac Crit

Garden Physic is the author’s best book in a so-far stellar career.

— Jonathan Ball - Winnipeg Free Press

Using florid language and poetic verse, Garden Physic revels in the pleasures of nature, weather and color — and how the garden functions as a place of growth and healing.


This is gardening on the level of Hecate or Baba Yaga: sorcerous, numinous, cunningly manipulating the chemical elements of life and death. And in keeping with this magic, Legris’s love for language plays unbounded among the joys of the botanical lexicon. 
— Paul J. Pastor - Los Angeles Review of Books

An impressive achievement—one facilitated by the poet’s singular, “wild-thoughted” vocabulary.
— Isabel Galleymore - Times Literary Supplement

Sensuous, brainy and cardiovascular, Garden Physic is a cutting-edge ode to plants, teeming with human knowledge and natural mystery, accompanied by gem-like illustrations by the poet.

— The Guardian

Sylvia Legris’s Garden Physic is the most refreshing book of the year. These are poems inspired by plants and flowers, but we are far from “A garden is a lovesome thing, God wot!”. An apothecary and an alchemist, Legris shows us a dense and mysterious garden of verse, arranged in carefully cultivated harmonies: “Drip a drop in an ear to diminish an ache.” Everyone should tiptoe in: there’s nothing around quite like it.

— Graeme Richardson - The Times

Product Details
ISBN: 9780811229906
ISBN-10: 0811229904
Publisher: New Directions
Publication Date: November 2nd, 2021
Pages: 112
Language: English