A Memoir in Weeds

Marco Wilkinson


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Madder, matter, mater—a weed, a state of mind, a material, a meaning, a mother. Essayist and horticulturist Marco Wilkinson searches for the roots of his own selfhood among family myths and memories.

“My life, these weeds.” Marco Wilkinson uses his deep knowledge of undervalued plants, mainly weeds—invisible yet ubiquitous, unwanted yet abundant, out-of-place yet flourishing—as both structure and metaphor in these intimate vignettes. Madder combines poetic meditations on nature, immigration, queer sensuality, and willful forgetting with recollections of Wilkinson’s Rhode Island childhood and glimpses of his maternal family’s life in Uruguay. The son of a fierce, hard-working mother who tried to erase even the memory of his absent father from their lives, Wilkinson investigates his heritage with a mixture of anger and empathy as he wrestles with the ambiguity of his own history. Using a verdant iconography rich with wordplay and symbolism, Wilkinson offers a mesmerizing portrait of cultivating belonging in an uprooted world.


Marco Wilkinson:

Marco Wilkinson has been a horticulturist, a farmer, and an editor. He has taught literature and creative writing at Oberlin College; University of California, San Diego; James Madison University; and Antioch University’s MFA program, and has taught horticulture and sustainable agriculture at Lorain County Community College and MiraCosta College. He has been the recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Award for Individual Excellence and fellowships from the Hemera Foundation, Craigardan, and the Bread Loaf Environmental Writers’ Conference. Madder is his first book.