THE MINISTRY OF FLOWERS is out now! Order from Valley Press or your favourite bookstore I’d begun to think that no poetry could reach me this year … I am, gratefully, shaken. Valerie Wallace
These poems reach right in and keep the glow of humanity burning… they take my breath away literally, invoking more senses than I thought I had. Hafsah Aneela Bashir
Between My Country — and the Others -- There is a Sea -- But Flowers — negotiate between us -- As Ministry.” — Emily Dickinson
As the world grapples with the tragic human cost of the global pandemic and its aftermath, the need for kindness and gratitude has become more important than ever. The Ministry of Flowers is in many ways a book for our times, one that offers hope in a changing world. The poems call into stark relief the brevity of human life, while also emphasizing the urgent need to connect with others and offer acts of kindness as a way of healing and moving forward.
Taking its title from an Emily Dickinson poem, the book explores how flowers, both real and metaphorical, are at the heart of a kinder world. With a strong ecological focus, the poems celebrate nature’s continual ministry in our lives and highlight the need to respect the ecosystems that sustain us. The Ministry of Flowers speaks eloquently to a society in need, in which compassion as well as forgiveness (of both self and others) become the seeds of the gentler, fairer world we seek.
A truly compelling and original work. John Sibley Williams
These poems will break your heart but leave you feeling uplifted, more grateful to be alive. Faisal Mohyuddin
A collection that will resonate long after you have turned the last page. Fiona Bennett
I’d begun to think that no poetry could reach me this year … I am, gratefully, shaken. Valerie Wallace
A compassionate recorder of our fallible bodies, broken hearts and enduring loves. Tamar Yoseloff
Intelligent well-crafted poems...with keen observation of and strong feelings for the natural world. Marge Piercy
Poignant hymns to the transformative nature of life’s experiences. Uplifting, intelligent and immensely engaging. Vanessa Gebbie
The Ministry of Flowers invokes Emily Dickinson as it imagines a world in which ministry and caregiving are a form of exchange between nations, people, and all living creatures. Deborah Hauser
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Andrea Witzke Slot is a London-based poet and fiction writer. After teaching for many years (primary school in the UK, then at Collin College in Texas and at the University of Illinois at Chicago after earning her PhD), Andrea now lives in London where she works as a contributing artist with Fiona Lesley's Poetry Exchange and tries to capture the unexpected beauty of humanity and nature in words, paints, and photography. Her publications include To find a new beauty (Gold Wake Press 2012), a poetry collection inspired by H.D.'s Sea Garden poems and The Ministry of Flowers, published by Valley Press in November 2020.
A truly compelling and original work, The Ministry of Flowers intimately weaves cultural concerns with family drama and questions of personal identity and societal gender expectations into a dream-like tapestry that’s as sharp-edged as it is gorgeously rendered. Slot’s visceral collection smolders with heartache, gritty natural landscapes, and an insistent lyrical beauty that both celebrates and haunts the edges of our familiar world. Here, even smiles are ‘scar-lined’. Here, ‘Goodbye / frames our lives’. These poems are packed with metaphors and feelings that made my heart fall into my stomach and my mind spin with creative delight. At its core, The Ministry of Flowers is a profound ‘way of / saying, I am here, and here I will remain’. John Sibley Williams, author of As One Fire Consumes Another, winner of the Orison Poetry Prize
‘How hard can it be to stand on sand?’ the poet asks. How transient things are—nothing stays the same, entropy bound to underpin everything and every one of us is in danger of becoming another ‘unrehearsed vanishing act’. And yet—that very attrition, that very transience—is celebrated in these poignant hymns to the transformative nature of life’s experiences, fleeting as those experiences may be. Love, touch, the gift of family, even the breaking down of relationships and the body - everything in the end, is to be valued. An uplifting, intelligent and immensely engaging exploration of our fragility. To be treasured. Vanessa Gebbie, author of The Coward’s Tale (Bloomsbury)
What I cherish most about the poems in The Ministry of Flowers is how open-hearted and welcoming they are, how they both celebrate and foster the beauty and necessity of human kindness, connection, and courage. Andrea Witzke Slot is a deeply generous poet, and her work invites us to look with more loving, more forgiving eyes at ourselves and others, and at life and death, even in times of great struggle and loss, with an air of gratitude, reverence, and surprise. In one poem, the speaker says to Emily Dickinson, her muse and imagined sister, ‘Please open your door. I have changed’. The Ministry of Flowers opens this door, then invites us in, so we too can be transformed and renewed as we bear witness to ‘the unrehearsed choreography of astonishment’. Faisal Mohyuddin, author of The Displaced Children of Displaced Children, a Poetry Book Society Recommendations and winner of Eyewear’s Sexton Prize
The Ministry of Flowers is a collection of odes and elegies, meditations and provocations that sing from the page and invite you to travel through the body as landscape, to journey on boats made from beds and to praise llamas, ants and oaks as emblems of struggle and change. Andrea Witzke Slot has an ear for the lullaby, the love-song and the manifesto and an eye that alights on a daring juxtaposition of images caught in the flashlight of her close observation and courageous imagination. Love is a swarm of bees, time zones are alchemy, and truck stops are places for prayer and wisdom. The long breath of prose poems is punctuated with compact tercets, couplets, a sonnet and one or two concrete poems - a wide range of form humming with a sure and enquiring voice. This is a collection to dive into, sure in the knowledge that you will be rewarded with startling images, tender narratives and a thought-provoking vision that will resonate long after you have turned the last page. Fiona Bennett, founder of the Poetry Exchange, British Podcast Silver Award Winner
Andrea Witzke Slot write intelligent well crafted poems. Although some are personal and some are political, her strength lies in her keen observation and strong feelings for the natural world. She writes movingly about gardens, oaks and even a slug. Marge Piercy, author of, most recently, On the Way Out, Turn Off the Lights
One might predict from this book’s gentle title that the contents would be a tidy garden, small in thoughts. But like the Dickinson whose line inspired it, this book is a forest, a wild meadow, and the centering astonishment too of a singular open bloom. I’d begun to think that no poetry could reach me this year. I have had a little fence around me. These poems – their deft form, extraordinary titles – are so intimate in their griefs and passions, exhaustions, tendernesses, so distinctly womanist, that I am, gratefully, shaken. Valerie Wallace, author of House of McQueen, winner of Four Way Press’s First Book Prize
The striking title of Andrea Witzke Slot’s collection, Ministry of Flowers, captures what her poems do best, in merging the political with the emotional – in other words, to express what it is to be human in our difficult times. She is a compassionate recorder of moments and lives that have remained vivid in memory, of our fallible bodies, broken hearts and enduring loves. Her project in this beautiful book, to paraphrase one of her statements, is to locate a kinder world out of a place ‘where chaos meets chance’. Tamar Yoseloff, author of, most recently, The Black Place (Seren)
The Ministry of Flowers invokes Emily Dickinson as it imagines a world in which ministry and caregiving are a form of exchange between nations, people, and all living creatures. These lyric poems exquisitely recall the urgency and passion of youth while showing the reader how to age gracefully and find both ‘new fire’ and ‘time to rail’. Slot notices, pays keen attention to, and captures the small moments and ‘muddled compost’ of everyday life. This collection holds out its hand with ‘forget-me-not blues, all hues / of hyacinth tolls and gentian dues’ in a heartfelt appeal for kindness that opened my mind and heart to the beauty of this rough world. Deborah Hauser, author of Ennui: From the Diagnostic and Statistical Field Guide of Feminine Disorders (Finishing Line Press)