Jane Marchant is a writer and photographer from the San Francisco Bay Area. She earned her BA and MFA from Columbia University’s nonfiction writing programs, where she served as co-president of Our Word, a student group advocating for diversity and inclusion in the graduate writing program. Formerly the PEN America Literary Awards Program Director, her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from ZYZZYVA, Guernica, Catapult, Apogee, Kweli Journal, Columbia Journal, and elsewhere, as well as anthologized in The Beiging of America: Personal Narratives about Being Mixed Race in the Twenty-First Century (2Leaf Press). Her book art has been exhibited with the Center for Book Arts in New York City and ACCI Gallery in Berkeley, California, and she currently resides in Oakland, California.
Project Description: Jane Marchant’s Encyclopedia of Botany uses plants found in her childhood garden to tell the story of how her parents met, had three children, and divorced; when her white British father moved out, the garden died. And a Black man knocked on the front door and introduced himself as her mother’s brother. Metaphors of fertility, colonialism, and root systems entangle as Marchant uncovers her maternal lineage and identity as a woman of Black and Mexican heritage.