Saturday 15th November 2008, from 2-5pm saw four guest speakers take the stand for The Lewis Glucksman Memorial Symposium. What must have been a near full auditorium in the Edmund Burke Theatre in Trinity College [sponsored by Bloom and in association with Dublin City Library].
Chaired by Professor Moray McGowan; The first speaker was Dr Matthew Jebb. He started with what he titled as ‘a poem to Boatany’. An amazing speaker, he wowed the crowds with the question that ultimately was ‘are the plants taking advantage of us?’, based on a plants ability to survive. His thinking, that the apple tree for example that started in Kazakhstan with a pip that contained cyanide and yet has become one of the most successful trees ever. His facts wowed and entertained while his accompanying slides drove home how much 2 cubic kilometres of H2O that plants split apart through photosynthesis each day actually was and that 30 times the size of Ireland was actually grown as wheat.
Dr Shelly Siguaro as with all the other speakers politely kept within the very tight timing schedule. Her piece was entitled ‘The Poetics of a Paradox’. She queried whether gardens & politics are political. She noted that a plot was a plan but also a place to grow. Her most amazing analagy was that ‘changing garden norms was like cross dressing in front of the lawn’.
Andrew Wilson was speaker number three. His sermon was ‘Visual Poetry’ He started with a personal homage of sorts to his brother, a sports writer for the Guardian and how competitiveness played a part in his life. I liked that. He queried whether nice and ugly was not better than fab or “shoite” and commented that garden shows while intense and dazzling where then only ever a memory.
The final speaker was Ms Anna Pavord and ‘Search for Order’. She spoke of common names versus latin. She told the story of the herb women, whose job it was to collect the plant for the doctors for cures and rather than walking the 8 miles – they’d simply give the doctor the nearest thing to them. So the cures didn’t work and eventually the study of plants became necessary. She spoke of William Turner, the 1st UK botanist, who wrote a book of plants names – but they were all in english and so it was useless abroad.
All in all, this was a great day. It was brilliant in fact or as Andrew would encourage his students to say ‘it was fab’. I really, really loved it. I look so very much forward to the next one. Bulaidh bós, well done all – you really did yourself proud.