Leaning toward Light

Poems for Gardens & the Hands That Tend Them

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Pub Date 29 Aug 2023 | Archive Date 29 Aug 2023
Storey Publishing, Storey Publishing, LLC

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Much like reading a good poem, caring for plants brings comfort, solace, and joy to many. In this new poetry anthology, Leaning toward Light, acclaimed poet and avid gardener Tess Taylor brings together a diverse range of contemporary voices to offer poems that celebrate that joyful connection to the natural world. Several of the most well-known contemporary writers, as well as some of poetry’s exciting rising stars, contribute to this collection including Ross Gay, Jericho Brown, Mark Doty, Jane Hirshfield, Ada Limón, Danusha Laméris, Naomi Shihab Nye, Garrett Hongo, Ellen Bass, and James Crews. A foreword by Aimee Nezhukumatathil, reflective pauses and personal recipes from some of the contributing poets, along with original, whimsical illustrations by Melissa Castrillon, and a ribbon bookmark complete this stunning, hardcover gift format. 

Much like reading a good poem, caring for plants brings comfort, solace, and joy to many. In this new poetry anthology, Leaning toward Light, acclaimed poet and avid gardener Tess Taylor brings...

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ISBN 9781635865806
PRICE $22.00 (USD)

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Featured Reviews

From this book I learned that 'anthology' means 'a gathering or collection of flowers', and what a beautiful garden this book is!
Leaning Towards Light was an incredible journey into a world most poets overlook; the world of nurturing, planting, and tending our piece and place of nature. And we get to see into the lives of the people who nourish them, and are nourished in return. This was a stunning collection from such an incredible range of poets and writers, it seems that our patches of Earth are dearer than most know, and I hope this is only the first in a long line of collections.
While also the focus of this outstanding book, we are shown that gardens are an ever growing, ever changing medium in which difficult truths of life can be conveyed and understood. I was left speechless by many poignant truths, joyful memories, and grieving admissions, so seamlessly woven into the motions of pruning, staking, and feeding. Possibly the shortest poem in the book, an entry on three little sunflower seeds left me nearly in tears!

So whether you have a green thumb-- or in my case, spend more time trying to save plants than eat from them-- I recommend this to all who knows themselves to be lovers of gardens, life, nature, and poetry.
I cannot wait for it's publication, and will eagerly add to my collection, and share among other green-thumbed enthusiasts!

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I loved how this book has these collections of poetry and other forms of writing about the joys of a garden. As well as some recipes and knowing more about planting a garden.

Thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for allowing me to read this book for a review.

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I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is a great collection!

This book features thoughtful poems and a recipe for every season. This book includes metaphors for gardening and growth as well as love and seasonality. It's a really great collection that talks about the importance of community and tending ourselves.

A good read!

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I am a gardener at heart, soul, and body, so getting approval for Leaning Toward the Light was magnificent. I am so thankful to Tess Taylor, Workman Publishing, and Netgalley for granting me advanced access to this book before its publication date -- August 29, 2023. I plan to feature this book on my Instagram page when my home garden fully flourishes in its prime, which is still before publication day. I love the little recipes and illustrations that filter into the pages of this book and other guest posts from fellow poets and artists alike. Like, completely count me in for the hype. this one.

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Leaning toward Light is an absolutely beautiful collection of poetry about gardens and plant life from a wide range of mainly contemporary poets.

With all the negativity and tragedy that’s going on in our world, this book reminds me of the goodness and purity there is in the natural world, and how we can be a part of that. By slowing down and paying attention, we can find peace and connection. A garden teaches us to take care of others as well as ourselves.

The book is set up in the cycle of a garden through the year, from planting and sprouting, to growing and tending, being and waiting, grieving and release, the harvest, all leading to winter. The artwork by Melissa Castrillon is gorgeous.

There are several recipes throughout the book, going along with a season and personal story.

The imagery in the writing is outstanding. I love how gardening teaches us to “live always in the possible” (Jason Myers, “Closing In”). It’s a state in which we should all wish to live.

Special thanks to NetGalley, Storey Publishing, and Tess Taylor for the opportunity to read and review this work.

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I really loved this anthology. Every page felt like a gift, like warm sunshine or big fat beads of spring rain.

There is a lot to savor here-- a diversity of voices, perspectives, flavors, smells, emotions. This is a really rich book, and the vibrant artwork throughout is so charming, really complementing the variety of poems, recipes, and prose.

I was pleasantly surprised to see some names I knew like Whitman and Keats included here, but I have to say I enjoyed reading the newer voices, especially those whose experiences are different from my own-- the black women and the immigrant mothers who nourish their families with the fruits of their garden toiling. I appreciated the focus on inclusion and the theme of regeneration. I think they're both particularly pertinent to our point in history.

"Gardeners, are, by their nature, people who believe in regeneration...They understand that the broken world we inherit can also be amended, with compost, worms, and steady tending. They have seen that the tended earth, in turn, offers up radical abundance--"

I also enjoyed the shared recipes, especially the feta, tomato, and basil pie recipe from my home state Mississippi. It was nice to see little glimpses of how these gardener poets use their harvests.

Overall, I think this is a very special little book and would make a fantastic gift for any gardening friends. And I'll definitely be checking out the other work of several of the authors included in this anthology-- I love that it tells you about each of them and their work at the end of the book.

Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC.

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A charming book full of gorgeous illustrations and beautiful poetry that inspires the reader through the ups and downs of life through the theme of all things plant love. I LOVED seeing Wendell Berry among the poets! Earth by Cleopatra Mathis resonated so so deeply. There are short essays accompanied by recipes gracing the beginnings of each section, which was such a delicious surprise (pun intended)! Everything about this book would make it a beautiful gift for gardeners, homesteaders, artists, environmentalists, or anyone who appreciates our connection with the botanical world around us.

Thank you, NetGalley!

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Gorgeous book, radiating beams of light and green tendrils of love of living things. There are recipes, memories and poems. I love the fresh tomato pie recipe and the interview with the pear tree. It's a lovely, meditative book. Every time I turn the pages, I think of more friends and family who would be equally enchanted by the collection of like minds and sentiments. Lovely book.

And - thoughtful - the end of the book includes a paragraph biography for each creator featured. So sweet.

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This is such a sweet, endearing book!
Filled with beautiful poems, illustration, and even recipes, it shares the beauty and joy of gardening and caring for the Earth. I am not a gardener, in fact I don't even have a green thumb, but I do love nature and flowers, so this was a charming read.
The collection of poems is very well curated, including authors I had never heard of but will for sure be looking for next time I go to a bookshop and authors I knew but had never read the particular poem included. I recommend this book to anyone honestly, whether you like gardening or not, you will surely enjoy reading these poems and looking at the beautiful illustrations.
I'm also very excited to try the recipes included in this,

Thank you very much to the publisher and NetGalley for the e-ARC!

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This combination of education mixed with poetry and illustrations was amazing. I have been truly inspired.

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Tess Taylor is the editor of a beautiful poetry book. She brings the garden into more light. Then, gifts us with the bounty of words, flowers and fruit. Wendell Berry is one of the many famous poets included in "Leaning Toward Light. There is no shame if a poet's words have never come through your lips or been heard by your unsealed ears. Now, today, is the time you waited anxiously for a new seredipitous moment.

Each poem spoons up its worthiness, it's celebration of light, soil and seed. Laura Villareal writes about uncontrolled happiness when the last days of winter forks up beauty after a snow. Gerard Manley Hopkins looks afar and wonders what if. He is filled with praise for what we hold in our hands now. If we hush, there is the infinitesimal movement of a new bud. Again, there is Tess Taylor writing about an Artichoke. Never seen a dragon? There are "dragon scales" you must hand pick.

.The poetry, prose and Art are amazing. There is nothing to take for granted. It is a heavy treasure chest filled with love and connection.By the way, among the flowers and fruit are recipes. Have a cucumber. How much? The only cost is a lullaby. Complimentary copy from Storey Publishing

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Over the years, we've turned our Mid-Michigan country acre into a series of gardens, islands of happiness and peace (and sweat and toil, but that's needful, healthy, even) where everything is a treat for the eyes or the taste buds, or both. I can't imagine life without at least a small patch of soil to push a seed into. When it's too cold or rainy to work with the soil, I enjoy staying indoors with a good book. Leaning toward Light is a lovely rainy-day read for any gardener.

The subtitle of this book is what first caught my eye and put a smile on my face. "Poems for Gardens & the Hands That Tend Them". I admired the cover art, and when I opened the book, I saw fresh and vibrant illustrations in harmony with that cover, scattered throughout. I paused to make a cup of herbal tea, as I could clearly see that enjoying this book would require one.

Don't skip over Aimee Nezhukumatathil's introduction, which gracefully ties poetry, life, and gardens together. As you continue reading, you'll find anecdotes, recipes, and of course, lots of poetry. My personal favorites are "Wild Oregano" and "Interview with the Pear Tree", but your favorites will depend on your personal experiences with life, gardens, food, family, love, memories, and who knows what else? Everything is connected. If I counted correctly, 89 different poets are represented in this book, and that makes a remarkable gathering.

So, scrub the soil from your hands and set your galoshes aside, just for a little while. Enjoy a celebration of our gardens. It's bloomin' good!

My thanks to Tess Taylor, Storey Publishing, and NetGalley for allowing me to read a digital advance review copy of this book. This review is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Leaning Toward Light by Tess Taylor is a beautiful anthology and garden book. Readers are introduced to poets overlooked for their attention to the worlds of planting, tending, and nurturing our place in nature. I found this to be a beautiful tribute to Mother Nature in a world slowly filling with “paved paradises” and their encroaching behaviours. This collection pays homage to those who nourish the Earth and find nourishment in return.

This book struck an emotional chord with me, as my late father and I enjoyed spending time in the garden together. The writers and poets pen the hardships and truths of life and how gardening can help them to be conveyed and understood. If you like gardens or nature, this is one to add to your poetry collection. I appreciated Taylor’s efforts to provide a mixture of traditional voices (mainly white males) and contemporary BIPOC voices.

I enjoyed how the collection is divisible by season. Each features a beautiful introduction and a recipe that begs to be tasted. Leaning Toward Light is a book I will be purchasing upon release to add to my nature and garden book collection. I am eager for a new series to emerge each spring. I find the art by Mellissa Castrillon to be so beautiful, and this book can easily be a coffee table all-star.

Thank you to NetGalley and Storey Publishing for an eARC in exchange for my honest review!

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You see a woman of a certain age,/not old, yet seeing every sign /of how the world will change her./More and more, you’ll find her in the garden/but not for onions or potatoes. /She wants blooms, color,/a breaking in the earth’s disorder.”

~Cleopatra Mathis

This is a broad collection of poetry, spanning from Keats to some very contemporary pieces, this is not you grandmother’s garden poetry collection. Here there is love and loss and passion. Poems that invoke the pain of history and a demand to be seen.

This is the work we have always know –/ pulling food and flowers from a pile of earth./The difference, now: my father is not a slave,/not a sharecropper

~Ashley M Jones

While the collection is well balanced and organized by seasons, having this many poets from such a wide variety of backgrounds and times creates a little disharmony that I didn’t expect. Maybe this is the point, to keep the collection from becoming too serene or expected.

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This is a beautiful collection of poetry. I particularly enjoyed the poems about garden creatures such as the snail. The poems evoke vivid imagery of the miniature worlds in our gardens. This a collection I will return to time and time again.

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I've never finished a book faster! It's something I needed to read, and I'm so happy I stumbled upon this wonderful collection of poetry that sings to nature, plants, and gardening. Tess Taylor has succeeded providing the reader with sensory details through the choice of poetry selected with care for each section. I especially loved the provided food recipes before each section of poetry begins. If you love nature, gardening, and poetry that celebrates these earthly elements, this book is definitely a must read!

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This was a beautiful anthology and I cannot wait to share this with my friends and family who love gardens as much as I do. Thanks to the author and NetGalley for this ARC!

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I don't think I have ever picked up a garden shovel to plant in my life, but reading "Leaning toward Light" made me want to, just to fully understand the beauty behind the process of life. Each selected work, whether it be the infamous "season of mists..." of Keats or an everyday person speaking about their time working with nature and with the earth felt moving and mesmerizing. Each piece of prose gave me the full impression that the authors felt a genuine and true connection to the life they were speaking so highly of, and the book moved my emotions as it waxed and waned out of seasons; the bloom of the spring, the glory of the summer, the battle of the autumn, and the acceptance of the winter. It's poetic, in a sense, to be able to find some sort of connection to nature through these writing pieces, and Taylor's intricate and precise decisions on placement of works to give the maximum emotional effect was extraordinary. I was additionally deeply moved by the bright, opening works of art sprawled throughout the pages, thanks to the amazing work of Melissa Castrillon. I found that the combination of the artistic style to give voice to what words could not, and the placement of words to give sound to what art was unable to made for a full picture of exactly what the book encompasses: the story of plants, nature, and life.

I would highly recommend this book to any individual who is moved by poetry and prose. I do not think in the slightest that you have to be involved with gardening or nature to find joy and serenity in the pages of these pieces. Everyone who enjoys the careful analysis of writing would find something to love within Leaning toward Light.

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Thank you to the editor Tess Taylor, publisher Storey Publishing, and as always NetGalley, for an advance digital copy of LEANING TOWARD LIGHT.

Poetry anthologies and collections are definitely not all created equal, and this is one of the superior ones-- <i>if</i> you happen to be interested in gardening. For those readers who aren't, they may have trouble connecting to the work in this book.

My favorite thing about LEANING TOWARD LIGHT is the variety. To start with, there are four sections in the anthology, each dedicated to one of the seasons. Also, this book contains more than just poems for each season, but also essays and even recipes. Additionally, some remarkable writers have contributed to this book, like one of my favorite poets, Mark Doty.

A tiny excerpt:
"...Three hundred bulbs
Huddle under earth,
Three hundred odds against weather.
When the darkness takes over,
I close my eyes. Everything is just where I left it."
from "Daffodils" by Michelle Gillett

Rating: 🌱🌱🌱🌱.5 / 5 seedlings
Recommend? Definitely! Great Spring reading!
Finished: February 16 2023
Read this if you like:
🪴 Plants
🌷 Gardening
🌦 Changing seasons
📜 Contemporary poetry
📄 Personal essays
🧄 Fresh recipes

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This was an incredibly thought out book. I love to garden and I love poetry so this was a wonderful combo for me. Tess has a way about words and I cannot wait to read more by her. HIGHLY recommend.

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This is a lovely book of poetry all about plants and the role of gardening in the lives of women.
The different sections are well thought out, and I love that there are recipes at the beginning of the each.

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As a plant and poetry lover, I had to read this and I really loved it. This was a must-read in my plant room surrounded by my plants which only added to my experience. If you do read this, you definitely have to do it either surrounded by your plants or out in nature with sunshine. Love that it was split by seasons, so you can experience it despite how it is where you are. There is also so much variety in the poems, so no matter what type of poetry you like there is something for everyone.

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Leaning towards Light, edited by Tess Taylor, was a nice anthology of poems that are centered on gardening. I appreciated that Taylor drew from contemporary and traditional voices (I was very excited to see a poem by Jericho Brown). Including recipes was a fun touch but the real star of the show for me were Melissa Castrillon's illustrations - absolutely stunning. The collection would appeal to readers without green thumbs if they want to understand the peace of working with soil.

Thanks to Tess Taylor, Storey Publishing, and NetGalley for allowing me to read a digital advance review copy of this book.

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