The Wildstory: A Podcast of Poetry and Plants by The Native Plant Society of New Jersey, is hosted by Ann E. Wallace, Poet Laureate of Jersey City. Art and nature intercept in each episode to bring listeners inside the world of poetry about the natural world and to introduce them to other well-known voices from the world of ecology. This show challenges us all to think about our own relationship with nature.
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During The Wildstory, the conversations—often funny, sometimes sad, but always reflective—are about the natural world and our connections to the environment. As Wallace explains, “In our weekly conversations with guests who are inspired by nature, we invite people to slow down, observe the world around them more closely, sink into its rhythms and mysteries, and reflect on what role we wish to play in the environment.” Indeed, a recurring theme of the series is that when we shine a lens on the life around us, whether through the smartphone cameras we all carry in our pockets now or through the language of poetry, we are likely to respect, care for, and even love that which we are seeing. More than that, The W challenges us to look beyond, spatially and chronologically, that which lies before us, as we unpack the historical, cultural, and familial language of the land.
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Duration: September 21 – October 31
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Poet January Gill O’Neil speaks with Ann Wallace about her new collection, Glitter Road, forthcoming from CavanKerry Press in February 2024. January discusses her year as the John and Renee Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi, and her immersion in the difficult cultural history of the south, as laid against its rich and fertile landscape. She also reflects on the ways in which the pandemic, which began toward the end of residency, allowed time for family, writing, and observation of the natural world. We then hear from Dr. Randi Eckel who will share news about NPSNJ’s upcoming season of webinars for a new installment of Ask Randi. And co-host Kim Correro joins Ann Wallace in the final segment for an important conversation with renowned landscape designer Edwina von Gal in advance of her appearance at the Garden Futures Summit in New York City, which is hosted by the Garden Conservancy on Sept 29. Edwina speaks about sustainable design and the Perfect Earth Project, as well as her Two Thirds for the Birds initiative, which offers an easy-to-remember strategy for incorporating native plants into our gardens.
Lisbeth White, a poet from Washington State and author of American Sycamore (Perugia Press, 2022) speaks with Ann Wallace about how ancestry, myth, and stories are contained within the American landscape, reflecting on the simultaneous beauty and historic violence evoked and held within the trees and waterways of this nation, and how ritual might help restore our connection to the land. We also hear from Dr. Randi Eckel, President of the Native Plant Society of New Jersey, for a new installment of Ask Randi. In this episode, Randi shares her excitement for the upcoming NPSNJ trip to the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge (Sept. 9th) and answers a question from Marlene about the non-native Norway Maple Tree. Finally, co-host Kim Correro joins Ann Wallace for a lively conversation with botanical illustrator Katy Lyness, delving into the past roles and present joy of the art form.
Sati Mookherjee a poet from the Pacific Northwest, speaks with Ann Wallace about her new collection Ways of Being (MoonPath Press, 2023) and the way grief, language, and the natural world intersect within her work. NPSNJ President Dr. Randi Eckel discusses the role of cultivars in our gardens. And co-host Kim Correro joins in for a conversation with Kim Rowe, leader of the Monmouth Chapter of NPSNJ, about the Independent Garden Center Initiative and strategic efforts to bring more native plants into New Jersey’s nurseries.
Kim Correro is producer and co-host of The Wildstory. She is a certified Master Gardener and Rutgers Environmental Steward committed to encouraging others to incorporate sustainable landscape practices into their gardens and greenspaces. Inspired by native plant enthusiasts who are dedicated to preserving the planet’s biodiversity and supports important conservation work being done to protect New Jersey’s native plant species, Correro is involved with The Native Plant Society of New Jersey in multiple ways as a volunteer. She is the co-leader of NPSNJ’s Hudson County Chapter, and is the Director of New Programs, recently creating nature poetry and botanical art classes for membership. Correro also has an active role in planning the yearly conferences for the state and recently joined the Independent Garden Center initiative (IGC) that works to encourage more nurseries to stock native plants. Creating wildlife habitat for urban spaces excites her and she has contributed to many garden projects throughout Hudson County. She is on Instagram @Kimcorrero
Ann E. Wallace, PhD, is host and producer of The Wildstory. She is a member of The Native Plant Society of NJ, for whom she has taught a nature poetry workshop. She is Professor of English at New Jersey City University in Jersey City, NJ, where she specializes in creative writing, illness narratives and trauma studies, and composition and rhetoric. Wallace is a poet and essayist who has written and spoken extensively about her experience with Long COVID for a variety of media outlets, and her poetry collection Days of Grace and Silence: A Chronicle of COVID’s Long Haulis forthcoming in 2024 from Kelsay Books. Her debut collection Counting by Sevenswas published by Main Street Rag in 2019. Although as a cancer survivor, woman with multiple sclerosis, and COVID Longhauler, she focuses on articulating pain and illness, her writing and teaching are informed by her gardener’s disposition—infused with nature, hope, and an appreciation for the life found in unexpected spaces when we slow down and look. Her published creative work and media appearances can be found at AnnWallacePhD.com, and she is on Instagram @annwallace409.
Randi Eckel, PhD, is the entomologist and president of the Native Plant Society of New Jersey. She is a life-long naturalist, lover of nature, and one of the most in-demand speakers across the state of NJ on growing and propagating native plants. Eckel specializes in the interactions between plants and other living things and is known throughout the industry for her lively and engaging lectures and workshops offering interesting, nuanced information on the complex issues facing native plant communities. In 1996 Eckel founded the mail-order native plant nursery, Toadshade Wildflower Farm, a business that catapulted her career to become a top competitor and purveyor in the field of native species.