NewsJamaica Kincaid's 'Encyclopedia Of Gardening For Colored Children'

Jamaica Kincaid’s ‘Encyclopedia Of Gardening For Colored Children’

Jamaica Kincaid’s new children’s book “An Encyclopedia of Gardening for Colored Children” explores plant life, colonization, and religion through bold illustrations.

The Antiguan-American novelist, essayist, and gardening writer teamed up with renowned visual artist Kara Walker to illustrate her book which serves as a stimulating exploration into the plant life that has shaped the colonized world. Kincaid, who’s been sitting on the idea for the book for some time, was able to pull Walker away from the caution she’s had about curating picture books which “lack delight and irreverence.”

“I wrote to Kara, but I was absolutely sure that this was an insulting idea to her, that she would say no. So when she responded yes, I probably didn’t read the whole email, I just immediately wrote back,” Kincaid told Harper’s Bazaar.

“Hilton [Als] mentioned that you were on Instagram, so I would see your flowers. I suddenly felt a connection that I really needed,” Walker said. “Being an artist and Black woman and feeling somewhat isolated … I needed a figure who was not just a friend, that I felt mentored by, in a way outside of the art.”

Through their mutual respect for each other’s work, Kincaid and Walker were able to come together to bring visual life to Kincaid’s children’s storybook inspired by the Garden of Eden in the Holy Bible.

“I came to understand a garden there in this way,” Kincaid explained. “There are many layered things about it, but the garden in particular, the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge—I’ve interpreted the Tree of Life as agriculture, and the Tree of Knowledge as horticulture.”

When it came to titling the children’s book and indicating its focus on “colored children,” Kincaid was prompted by her publisher to remove the term that’s looked at as “the N-word.” But telling that to a writer who’s regarded for being a literary “bad a**” meant the requested change wasn’t up for discussion.

“Is them not the word colored? The word colored applies to all,” Kincaid said. “If you’re going to use it to designate one group of people, it’s all people.”

“White is a color—it’s not the absence of color and the rest of us are a color. White is a color, too. You could say “for all children,” but I love the word colored. I didn’t want “children of color.” No, no.”

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Source: Black Enterprise

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