Saturday, 29 September 2007

The Earth Knows My Name by Patricia Klindienst

The Earth Knows My Name
Patricia Klindienst
Beacon Press

SACCO and Vanzetti were murdered by the US in 1927, in a historic fit-up.

Two FBI men had sworn affidavits to the fact that they believed the anarchists innocent of the murders they were executed for. Neighbours had testified that the pair were selling them eels at the time of the armed robbery and murders.

Patricia Klindienst started her rather earnest and political book about gardening when she found a forgotten photo of her Italian immigrant mother holding up a newspaper with the headline announcing that Sacco and Vanzetti's appeal was denied.

It sent her off on a search for immigrant gardens - and the gardens of America's native people.

"The irony of the pressure to assimilate is that it not only robs people of their heritage and their dignity, it robs the dominant culture too, impoverishing us all," she writes.

Her discoveries are very apposite to our own new status as a country hesitantly welcoming incomers.

The book is a surprise underground hit, the word going out across gardening maillists and websites. And no wonder.

Klindienst travels from a garden run by the descendants of slaves to one kept by Pueblo Indians in New Mexico, a Punjabi woman's garden and those of Japanese and Italian and Khmer migrants. She ends in a Yankee's garden, and brings his gift of ancestral corn seeds to the Indians whose culture his own ancestors had ravaged.

xxxx stars

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