JOY TAKES ROOT & THE LIGHT SHE FEELS INSIDE with GWENDOLYN WALLACE
Gwendolyn Wallace is a gardener, a scholar, a perennial student, a teacher, a historian, and the author of two new works of illustrated children’s literature. Joy Takes Root, and The Light She Feels Inside (both published this year by Kokila Press and illustrated respectively by Ashleigh Corrin and Olivia Duchess) are works grounded in the human impulse to garden.
In words, stories, and images these additions to the world of children’s literature help to grow us all.
Using her own history and experience with gardens and gardening, Gwendolyn’s stories remind us (no matter our age) that our gardens raise and tend to us as much as we raise and tend to them!
As we lean into the grateful season of November and December - Enjoy.
From Gwendolyn's website:
Gwendolyn Wallace (b.1998) is a New York City-based researcher, storyteller, and children’s literature author. Her work for both children and adults centers Afrodiasporic voices to explore the unfolding relationship between the spatial logics of colonialism and our bodyminds. She has had the honor of working on multimedia nonfiction projects with Ado Ato Pictures, MIT Media Lab, Forensic Architecture, and the Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis. She is also a member of the TikTok Ethnography Collective. In 2021, Gwendolyn was chosen as the first fellow of the International African American Museum. Additionally, she is on the board of The REACH Fund of Connecticut (Reproductive Equity, Access & CHoice), a reproductive justice advocacy organization and Connecticut’s first abortion fund!
Gwendolyn’s award-winning writing for adults has been published in The Offing, Foglifter Journal, Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism, the Center for Research Architecture, and more. Her debut children’s book, Joy Takes Root, was published on June 20th, 2023 to critical acclaim, and she is the author of the forthcoming titles The Light She Feels Inside (2023), Dancing with Water (2025), and an unannounced book (2026). As an author, she believes in the radical imaginations of Black youth and writes books to help them step into their transformative power.
An alumna of Phillips Exeter Academy, Gwendolyn studied the history of science and medicine at Yale University before pursuing a master’s degree in public history at University College London. Pulling inspiration from the kaleidoscopic and genre-bending work of artists like Akwaeke Emezi, Theo Anthony, and Saidiya Hartman, Gwendolyn’s work explores the relationships between our bodies and environments in fresh and urgent ways. She can usually be found gardening, exploring used bookstores, or listening to the liberatory impulses of young children.
You can follow Gwendolyn's work on line at: gwendolynwallace.com/
and Instagram: @g.m.wallace
All images courtesy of Gwendolyn Wallace. all rights reserved.
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JOIN US again next week, when we speak to another plantsperson who has also penned a wonderful work of children’s literature! Riz Reyes of RH Horticulture and Landwave Gardens. His work gardening, teaching, designing, and cut-flower growing has also germinated a wonderful book for families with children of all ages entitled: GROW A Family Guide to Plants and how to grow them, richly illustrated by Sara Boccaccini Meadows – that’s next week right here – listen in!
Speaking of Plants & Place sprouting back up soon....
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Thinking out loud this week....
As you all know, I am a fan of children’s literature, and its great importance in importing, cultural values and cultural literacy. To see read hear plant stories and plant knowledge shared across generations and across cultures is a great joy in these times. They are seeds shared forward of what we value, and what we tend to as our legacy to the future.
I love Gwendolyn’s articulation, but also the agency of these two works of experience plus imagination plus embodied hope for better growth around the ideas that plants raise us, our gardens at their best and done well with the best intentions raise us to be better humans, just as we raise them.
If you have stories or examples of how plants or your garden has raised you or even helped you to raise your family, i’d love to hear. Like birth and labor stories, death and passing stories, our garden stories shared are one way we grow our best individual and collective future.
Keep growing together!
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