On writing [expressing a relation to] dried plant specimens

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Costello, M 2017, 'On writing [expressing a relation to] dried plant specimens', Transformations, vol. 30, pp. 150-163.

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This paper discusses an instance of, or an attempt at, interspecies communication, collaboration, or convocation. I am writing dried specimens in the Southern Cross Plant Science Medicinal Plant Herbarium, Southern Cross University, Australia. Wendy Wheeler describes ecocriticism, developed late last century, as a “new critical formation” responding to environmental crises. The paper will briefly allude to these crises, and ecocriticism and its cognates, and suggested procedures for action. The paper’s primary concern is wrestling with how to do interspecies communication and collaboration as such action. As Martin Harrison asks: “What are the necessary criteria for a writing which … fulfils an ecological requirement?” I consider Harrison’s, Ryan’s, and others’ suggestions of criteria, modes and procedures. I discuss using the frame of ekphrasis and the genre of the prose poem in my investigation of writing the more-thanhuman. I contest arguments about dealing with dried specimens as a limited sensory experience. And I consider the interdisciplinarity of this instance of creative writing with science.

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