If Friday’s announcement that the New York Botanical Garden’s corpse flower was in bloom—the first occurrence in the city since 1939—inspired a sense of dejá vu, it may not be all in your head. The Wall Street Journal has pointed out that over half a dozen of the gigantic plants have bloomed this year in the United States, unusually, at the same time.
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Jana Prikryl’s first book of poems, “The After Party”, brings to a close the long period of silent evaluation known as childhood. The “after party” is our memory of the past, not so much recollected in tranquillity as relived in the riotous terms of style and form. But it is also the afterlife: this is a book haunted by generations of the dead, including Prikryl’s brother, who died suddenly in 1995; the book is dedicated to him.
A lot of what we know about the importance of human touch comes from looking at the behaviour of other species. Many animals and birds groom themselves to remove dirt and parasites from their coat, but primates, our closest relatives, spend up to 20% of the day grooming each other. This is usually a rhythmic combination of vigorous finger-thumb pinches that pluck out pieces of debris, mixed with gentler sweeps that provide a stroking sensation.