This piece first appeared on the League of Canadian Poets blog on April 24, 2015:
“Next I’ll speak about the celestial gift of honey”
~ Virgil, Book IV, Georgics
From the slow press of hours in ancient times to today’s digital staccato, poets obsesses about bees. For example, there’s Stephen Collis’ bee poems in his award winning poetry book, On the Material as well as Carol Ann Duffy’s The Bees, and of course, famously, Sylvia Plath’s “bee sequence” in Ariel and Yeats’ Lake Isle of Innisfree.
Bee poems pop out everywhere once you start looking, and you might find yourself clipping poems to carry around in your pocket, such as Eamon Grennan’s delightful “Untitled [back they sputter]. Start googling any poetry website and you’ll quickly discover poems about bees, bee-keeping, hives and honey. As well-known bee expert, scientist and author, Dr. Mark Winston says, “Art with bees energizes our capacity to imagine and deepens our attentiveness to the world around us.” His latest book, Bee Time, Lessons from the Hive, includes environmental analysis, memoir, and a lyric prose meditation on bees, art and culture. In the research for his book, Dr. Winston connected with Vancouver poet, Renée Sarojini Saklikar, author of a life-long poem chronicle, thecanadaproject that includes, among other things, bee-poems.
This year, Saklikar and Winston will collaborate on a lyric prose-poetry performance for which Saklikar has written a sequence of bee poems in honour of, and using text from not only Virgil but also Winston’s scientific data and publications. In preparing for performance, Mark and Renée were delighted to learn of Rachel Rose’s call to poets to investigate, explore, and celebrate food and poetry. As the new City of Vancouver’s poet laureate, Rose’s vision shimmers “bee energy.” She writes, “we want to investigate the ways in which food is ‘personal, political, sensual and powerful.’” Saklikar, a League member who studied with Rachel Rose at Simon Fraser University’s The Writers Studio, saw a nexus of community connections beginning to form: what might poets, community, and bees get going in Vancouver? Continue reading “Poets.ca: On Honey, Hives and Poetry”