May 2023

The Language of Trees

By Katie Holten
Review by
Artist Katie Holten has gathered a stunning range of writings that celebrate all things arboreal, from recipes for acorn flour to reflections on catalpa trees.
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On her website, Irish artist Katie Holten asks, “What is the language we need to live right now? How can we learn to be better lovers of the world?” One of her answers is an innovative—and downloadable!—tree alphabet font: For each letter, she has drawn a corresponding tree.

This project provides the stunning visual component for The Language of Trees: A Rewilding of Literature and Landscape, “a love letter to our vanishing world,” in which Holten gathers a diverse range of writing celebrating and reflecting on all things arboreal. There are recipes for acorn flour and gall ink, words from Plato and Radiohead, poems by Ada Limon and Camille Dungy, musings on cacao and catalpa trees, and so much more—all of it printed first in English and then in Holten’s tree alphabet, creating visual forests that represent the book’s words. I’ve never seen anything remotely like this work of art and was nodding along to the introduction by poet Ross Gay: “Can I tell you how batshit beautiful I find this? Can I tell you how each piece . . . each essay or poem or song becoming a forest or orchard, rattles me, flummoxes me really, with how beautiful?”

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The Language of Trees

The Language of Trees

By Katie Holten
Tin House
ISBN 9781953534682

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