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Nothing great has been and nothing great can be accomplished without passion.”—G W F Hegel
I have always loved gardens and gardening, but about 15 years ago after moving into a new house (new to me, anyway) and acquiring a yardful of plants and flowers, I suddenly became obsessed with all things relating to flowers–perennials, in particular. I checked out books from the library—Perennial All Stars and Perennial Combinations (two I remember), and pored through the pages. I loved everything about those books. I liked the pictures, of course, the descriptions of the various plants, and I especially liked their names. There was the elegant Lady’s Mantle, the exotic Siberian Iris and Golden Hakone Grass. There was Purple Toadflax—what was that? Silver Wormwood and Bear’s Breech? It was almost as if there were years and years of ancient lore underlying each plant, and I wanted to learn about them all. I indulged myself in those books, and then in as many plants as would thrive in the twenty by forty patch of soil under my care.
The following quotes were taken from an interview of Chris Abani by NET interviewer Jackie Sojico, and his presentation, “The Graceful Walk,” at the Governor’s Lecture in the Humanities, Lincoln, Nebraska, September 13, 2014.
Chris Abani, Nigerian born poet, the PEN/Hemingway Award for “Graceland,” and speaker on creativity at the Governor’s Lecture in the Humanities, said, “Nothing exists outside of language or story. ” His inspiration comes from diverse parents, an Igbo father, a mother who was English, and a childhood split between Nigeria and England. “I’ve grown up biracial, at least tricultural, multilingual. I work in multiple genres. I have a crazy approach to teaching. I’m a bit like a snake charmer,” said Abani. He commented about what it’s like to be in America and his concern that we sometimes use stereotypes to reduce life’s complexities. “Nigerians always struggle to communicate,” Abani remarked, and he raised the question that maybe we need to struggle more, ask more questions instead of being definitive. He believes we should learn to see and respect before trying to reveal ourselves. When there is “shared negotiation”, there is more empathy toward each other, and, he added, “compassion drives ethical acts.”
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