Molly Peacock’s Inventive New Book On Some Very Old Art

You can overcome yourself. Examine this world. ~ Molly Peacock.

I suppose it might be a bit of a spoiler to offer up this keeper which surfaces near the end of Molly Peacock's engrossing hybrid of a book, The Paper Garden (Bloomsbury, 2010), but please do not be deterred. Part memoir, part monograph, part biography, and part meditation on art-making and womanhood and aging and privilege, Peacock's words and the glossy reproductions of Mary Granville Pendarves Delany's 230-year-old painted-paper collages (She names them Flora Delanica) occupied my imagination for a week this summer. I copied the aphorism into the front of my notebook where I revisit it often. "Examine this world" seems exactly right as I grow accustomed to the fact that my own life has been mostly ordinary while my need to make poems has not subsided at all. Poems do not have to be internal things. A very good case could be made for our need to read but especially to write poems (and to make and take in art of any kind) that inspires us to shift our gaze (and everything that goes along with gazing) outward without letting go of whatever it is within us that compelled the gesture of attention. Thank you, Molly Peacock, and thank you, Mary Delany. And dear reader, if you're lucky enough to be able to get to London, you can look at Delany's original artwork, nearly one thousand images, at the British Museum. Click here for a video.

By |2012-09-14T13:31:51+00:00September 7th, 2012|4 Comments


  1. Wini September 7, 2012 at 10:42 pm - Reply

    I look forward to your Friday postings, Alison! And I spent a wonderful summer afternoon recently reading your book on our balcony. It was heaven! I've meant to write you about it, but….oh, you know…Time! XXOO Love it that you're posting stuff you love. 

  2. Alison Swan September 10, 2012 at 3:00 pm - Reply

    Thanks Wini. I'm certainly enjoying being in touch. I'll let you know when I bake dessert from a recipe in your cookbook. I think "Apricot-Pine Nut Cakelettes" will be the one–once the weather cools down!

  3. Molly Peacock September 13, 2012 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for posting about The Paper Garden, Alison Swan.  Mrs. Delany would have appreciated what you said, and I certainly do.  It is a lovely paradox of living that focusing outward on something connects you inwardly. 

  4. Alison Swan September 14, 2012 at 1:14 pm - Reply

    You're welcome, Molly Peacock. I think I'll carry Mrs. Delaney's Winter Cherry in my memory for  a long time. 

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