You are invited to join us for a spring reading at St. John’s Booksellers!
When: Thursday, April 16th
Where: St. John’s Booksellers
8622 N. Lombard St., Portland, OR 97203
What: Six of our contributing writers will read from Winged: New Writing on Bees, in celebration of the beauty, mystery, and absolute necessity of honeybees and other pollinators. Kick off the start of spring by connecting with people who care about great writing and the continued health of our human relationship with pollinators.
Following the reading, we’ll offer a free tasting of mead and honey from Bee Thinking.
Enjoy an evening of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, then pick up a signed copy of Winged— all proceeds benefit pollinator education and conservation organizations. So far, we’ve donated $2,000 to the Xerces Society and Spikenard Honeybee Sanctuary. Be part of the giving! Your purchase goes toward our spring contribution to Bees for Development, which provides training, information and advice to people in 122 different countries, helping them meet their basics needs through beekeeping. Read more about their important work here
About the Readers:
Kristin Berger is the author of a poetry chapbook For the Willing (Finishing Line Press, 2008), and former editor at VoiceCatcher. She has been awarded Writers Residencies at The H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest and at Playa, Summer Lake, Oregon. Recent poetry and non-fiction has appeared in, or is forthcoming, in Camas, Cirque, Forest Log (Spring Creek Project), and North Dakota Quarterly.
Dena Rash Guzman is the author of Life Cycle—Poems (Dog On A Chain Press 2013.) A chapbook is forthcoming from Reprobate/Gobshite Quarterly Press in summer 2015. Her work can be found online and in print at The Poetry Foundation, The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, Luna Luna Magazine, Ink Node and elsewhere. She has had her poems anthologized several times, including by publishers in the People’s Republic of China where she has performed her work for thousands. She is a beekeeper and lives in Oregon.
Sarah Marshall grew up in Oregon, earned her MFA at PSU, and continues to write and teach in the area. Her essays have most recently appeared in The Believer, The New Republic, and Lapham’s Quarterly, and she is at work on a book about female victimhood narratives in American culture.
Lynn Otto is a writer in residence at George Fox University, Newberg, OR. Her work has appeared in Raleigh Review, Plain Spoke, Triggerfish Critical Review, Strong Verse, and Centrifugal Eye.
Melissa Reeser Poulin (Co-editor) teaches English and creative writing in many settings, working with the elderly, high school students, and adult English language learners. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, and she was a 2014 Pushcart nominee. She lives with her husband, a metal artist and blacksmith, in Portland, Oregon.
Jill McKenna Reed (Co-editor) is a poet, writing instructor, and beekeeper in Portland, Oregon. She is co-owner of Bee Thinking, a beekeeping supplier specializing in foundationless hives. When she is not writing or teaching, she can be found catching swarms or helping new beekeepers around the Portland area. Jill earned her MFA in Creative Writing – Poetry, at Portland State University.
About St John’s:
St. Johns Booksellers is a family-owned neighborhood bookstore located in the historic heart of North Portland’s St. Johns neighborhood, offering new, used, and remaindered books in a wide range of subject areas. Store co-owner Nena Rawdah is a bookseller with 14 years of experience in all areas of the book trade. Partner (and husband) Adam Robins is a construction consultant and history geek. They opened the store with another partner in June 2005, on a shoestring budget consisting of a pinch of cash, a microloan from Mercy Corps, and a whole lot of sweat equity. On the day they opened, they had fewer than 2000 books on hand. They now offer an ever-growing inventory of over 13,000 titles that changes daily.
We’re grateful for the many people who worked behind the scenes to bring Winged to life. This week, we feature short interviews with two of our visual artists, Charlotte Clement and Megan Newell. Here’s what they had to say about their interest in pollinators, their work as visual artists, and why they chose to join our team. Thanks, Charlotte and Megan!
Charlotte Clement Cover Illustration
I’m an artist and beekeeper based in Portland, Oregon. I was born in Rhode Island and studied fine arts at Drew University. I became became involved with Winged through Jill McKenna Reed. I work with Jill at Bee Thinking. I am excited to be a part of Winged because I’d like to do whatever I can to help bees. I started working at Bee Thinking and became a beekeeper around the same time. I’ve spent the past year having long conversations about bees, their dire state, and the impact their state will have on all of us. Winged was a great opportunity to contribute to a cause I care for through a means that I am very familiar with: drawing.
Honeybees have in some way shifted my art and creativity. I am inspired by their comunity structure and architectural skill. I used to make a lot of vessels using latex and paper mache. My projects were quite similar to the aesthetics of a beehive. In addition to managing Bee Thinking’s retail space, I also assist ceramic artist Kim Murton. These interests continue to inspire my art, which is recently focused on textural drawings of bees. I usually work in graphite and charcoal.
Apart from their environmental implications and communal living, I find the movement of the bee most interesting. I am fascinated by their ability to travel for so long on so little and how their wings are simultaneously invisible and luminescent. I tried to capture a moment of that speed and delicacy in my work with Winged.
The opportunity to design for Winged is exactly the reason why I design–to support an issue I believe in by helping create the visual storyline. I also value the coming together of writers, poets, artists, photographers, readers, and bee lovers to create a piece that celebrates the beauty of life, and more particularly, one small and important creature. I want to help bring attention to declining honeybee populations, and I am honored to have been a part, although just a small part, of the creative response to this serious issue.
I feel my purpose as a designer is to make others’ lives a little lighter and brighter, even if for a moment. This often influences my work to be vivid, multi-colored, fun, layered, textured, and engaging. As someone who prefers to listen than to speak in conversations, a design becomes my voice to the ideas that form in my mind as I observe others’ passions, histories, issues, concerns, and humanity. I am available for projects and/or collaborations! You can reach me at email@example.com and view previous projects at www.megannewell.com.
The purpose of Winged is to spark conversation about human dependence on pollinators by connecting a wide range of readers through the power of story. We’re determined to make the book available to readers of all kinds, through donations to libraries in schools, cities, and prisons.
The Prison Book Program is a grassroots program that has been sending free books to prisoners since 1972. Here is its mission statement: “[We mail] books to people in prison to support their educational, vocational and personal development and to help them avoid returning to prison after their release. We also aim to provide a quality volunteer experience that introduces citizens to issues surrounding the American prison system and the role of education in reforming it.”
The Prison Book Program collects and distributes book donations to people in prisons all over the United States, except California, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, and Texas. If you’d like your matched book to be sent to a prison book program or library in one of these states, please look into requirements and contact firstname.lastname@example.org with the program information.
If you’re a non-profit or librarian interested in acquiring a copy of Winged for your collection, please contact email@example.com
Gerard Ehrmann is a longtime beekeeper and founder of Luna’s Gold honey in California. After a mutual friend introduced us via email, Gerry was kind enough to respond to my questions about his work with bees. He wrote by hand, on several sheets of yellow legal paper. The letter arrived with a jar of San Francisco blend honey– some of the most delicious honey I’ve ever tasted.
Thank you, Gerry.
When and why did you begin beekeeping?
I first became interested in it while in grad school at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR. I had a housemate who had been a beekeeper in high school and seemed to really enjoy it. He told me many stories about the bees that sparked my interest. A year later while living in Seattle, I met a friend of a friend and he showed me his two hives in his backyard. This time I was able to see the hives in action.
It wasn’t until seven years later, in spring of 1983, when I was reading my first and second grade hearing-impaired students a book on bees (while using sign language) that I knew I had to do something about my interest. I bought a couple of hives and kept them on my third story balcony outside my flat. There was the start of my caring for honeybees as a beekeeper. The hobby was launched.
I believe it will take years and many generations of bees to improve and change their genetic makeup to combat some of these ills. Also, man has got to stop doing so much destruction to our planet.
What are your methods as a beekeeper?
When I began beekeeping, I bought a couple of hives. As I lost a hive, I would generally buy a new one or if I was lucky I caught a swarm. I used to get two to four years out of a hive before it would die out. These past seven years, due to tracheal and varroa mites (which have been here since the late 80s), viruses, fungi, pesticides, CCD, and others, I find it very difficult for a new hive to make it through the winter and into the next spring. Some of this is my fault, for I have refused to medicate my honeybees. That is because a lot of these medications can contaminate the honey or wax or both. I also feel that, like other diseases, the honeybees have to find ways to combat the mites. I believe it will take years and many generations of bees to improve and change their genetic makeup to combat some of these ills. Also, man has got to stop doing so much destruction to our planet.
This year I am trying something new. I have bought some new hives that are very strong, and with some of my remaining hives from last year, I am making small hives called nucs. That is, I’m having my hives make new queens, thus new hives. Hopefully they will develop into strong hives.
How has beekeeping changed you?
All my life, I’ve had a love of nature. Trees are one part I’ve always had a fascination and fondness for. Beekeeping has helped me zero in on these highly productive little insects and how much we depend on them for our food. It’s opened my eyes to other insect pollinators and how all of nature is intertwined. I find myself always looking at flowers and trees that honeybees are attracted to and I enjoy spending time watching the bees forage on different plant species.
I also studied birds of North America for many seasons and I believe this was a result of studying honeybees. I think all in all, beekeeping has given me a keener sense of nature and the interdependence that is essential.
How does the honey change over the course of a season in taste and color?
Honey can actually change over the course of the season depending on what the honeybees forage on. Some nectars are lighter, some medium, some dark, and every shade in between.
Frames of honey in a beehive will often have different flavors depending on the nectars that have been foraged. For example, part of the frame may be apple honey while another part may be made up of rosemary or blackberry. Some frames may be made of many different nectars. When the frame is extracted, the honey mixes together and you get a blend of its own.
I have found the darker nectars tend to come later in the season, but I don’t believe this is always true. Also, the mixing together of all the nectars can make the honey darker in the comb.
Comb can also darken as the season progresses just because of the additional pollen that’s placed into cells to feed the young. Comb will definitely darken over the season, especially if there has been brood in there.
I think all in all, beekeeping has given me a keener sense of nature and the interdependence that is essential.
In terms of plants worked and resulting honey, what is unique about your corner of the world?
Well, I have hives in four places in California: Pescadero, two properties in Sebastopol, and my backyard in San Francisco. The Pescadero property is an organic vegetable farm with fruit trees nearby. The bees there can forage from strawberries, rosemary, wildflowers, berry bushes, and eucalyptus. The bees in San Francisco have access to the Golden Gate Park Arboretum, some backyard fruit trees, bushes, blackberries, ornamental flowers, some wildflowers, Australian Christmas Tree, bottlebrush, lavender and may other herbs. The bees in Sebastopol get wild mustard, blackberries, apple and other fruit trees, ornamentals, wildflowers, eucalyptus trees, madrone, and many backyard flowers and sages.
All of these places share some nectars but have different tastes. It’s the combination of all these nectars that give each honey its distinct taste and color.
Do you farm other foods?
For the past 28 years, I have attended three apple trees and one pear tree that I planted in 1986 in my backyard in San Francisco. This is as close as I’ve gotten to my adult dream of owning my own apple orchard. All my life, I have grown vegetables in my yard, and some strawberries as of late. The apples I collected over the years have been enough to share with my 4th grade class that I had been teaching up to last June when I retired. The students enjoyed them thoroughly and it gave me great pleasure. I also grow plants that attract the bees and help give them something to forage on.
Do you feel hopeful about our shared future with pollinators, including native bees?
I feel somewhat hopeful that humans can share a future with pollinators such as the honeybee, but I’m not sure of some of the others. I say this because in the cities, there are way more hobby beekeeper than there were when I first started. Bees in the cities, even though still subject to all the diseases, they get a much healthier diet of nectar and pollen because there’s a greater diversity of plants, bushes, and trees to gather pollen and nectar from. Whereas on many farms, there is a monoculture and bees can;’t get all they need from one food source. I believe more of the public is aware of the problems of honeybees, though solutions are slow to come forth.
Humans have to look at the environment as interconnected, and to realize that when they break the chain of life they are doing mass destruction on many other forms of life. Greed has got to stop!
Farmers have got to stop spraying pesticides that disorient and kill beneficial insects. They have to diversify their crops and leave corridors of native plants, bushes, and trees which honeybees and other pollinators can gather food from. They need to plant more plants that pollinators need to survive and give them enough food for winter.
Man has to leave large parcels of land to the nature species of the area for pollinators to survive on. We have to stop developing every space we can for malls, parking lots, housing, industrial buildings, etc, etc., etc. Humans have to look at the environment as interconnected, and to realize that when they break the chain of life they are doing mass destruction on many other forms of life. Greed has got to stop!
I know there are many bright scientists studying ways to rid honeybees of the problems they face. There are also bee breeders who are working to develop or breed honeybees that can combat mites in a holistic organic way.
I am sure it will be a very slow process. Banning dangerous pesticides and GMOs can be a great start for pollinators.
On Gerry’s bookshelf:
The Hive & Honeybee, Dudant & Sons. Natural Beekeeping, Ross Conrad. The Wisdom of the Hive & Honeybee, Thomas Seeley. Honeybee Democracy, Thomas Seeley. Fruitless Fall, Rowan Jacobs. A Book of Bees, Sue Hubbell. Bee Culture (monthly magazine)
Thanks to everyone who joined us to celebrate the book’s release! What an amazing night to honor pollinators and art. Thank you for turning out in numbers on the night before Halloween. We shared wine, food, books, and lively conversation about bees.
Best of all, we were treated to a wonderfully varied lineup of readings from Winged. For us editors, it was especially moving to hear these writers’ words come to life, after a year spent editing and organizing the contents from afar. We didn’t think it was possible to love the book and the writers more– and yet, we do!
Congratulations to everyone who has made this book possible. We share our joy and our gratitude with you. Here’s a selection of images from the evening, courtesy of Literary Arts.
A big thank you again to our sponsors: the Regional Arts & Culture Council, Literary Arts, Whole Foods Pearl District, and Sokol Blosser Winery. And be sure to join us with at 7:30 p.m. this Friday, November 14th, for a reading at the Corvallis Library in Corvallis, Oregon. Hosted by the Spring Creek Project at Oregon State University.
Perusing the book table before the reading
A warm and attentive crowd
Jill and Melissa welcoming the audience
Paulann Petersen kicks off the reading with “Wax” and “A Sacrament”
George Venn reading “Down the Colfax Grade”
Lois Leveen with an excerpt from her novel Juliet’s Nurse
John Beer with “Beekeeper”
Kate Gray gave a beautiful reading of “When the Dead Visit Dreams”
Leni Zumas reads “Mellis Dentem”
Annette Fisch joined us all the way from New York to read from her novel-in-progress, “Uncontrollable”
Portland writer and performer Adrienne Flagg closed the night with “Free Bees”
Today I will write a poem about Butternut Squash soup
with winter pears, ginger, garlic, carrots, pepper
the woman who was assaulted, how she wept
holding the stuffed giraffe, honey stick and prayer shawl
the week of incessant rain, global warming,
how the dead bees rained on her sun porch,
how she crawled under the car to get out of the rain
when he left her bloody and bruised at the county park
how the soup is blended, smooth, a rusty orange-brown
like the round edges of screws on the Forest Service green picnic tables,
the edges of his silver truck bed. How she wears amber, a round
gemstone from the Dominican Republic, warm light of hope.
How bees pollinate the squash, pears, vegetables, herbs and spices.
How the honeycombs are lit from within, pure chroma color.
hexagonal, the esoteric shape of bees’ bodies.
This poem is about equilibrium in the midst of social media,
how another acquaintance spiraled out, anxiety, depression,
perhaps multiple personalities, or personality disorder
which doesn’t exist in the latest DSM. What would his
diagnosis be anyway? charismatic sociopath? He is
the neighbor next door who mows your grass, removes wasp nests,
when you haven’t asked, and fixes the elderly neighbor’s fence
and how you would never suspect he was a predator
unless you were paying attention, watching the bees and stirring the soup
with a wooden spoon, adding a bit of Mediterranean sea salt.
Gwendolyn Morgan learned the names of birds and wildflowers and inherited paint brushes and boxes from her grandmothers. With a M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Goddard College, and a M.Div. from San Francisco Theological Seminary, she has been a recipient of writing residencies at Artsmith, Caldera and Soapstone. Her work has been published in: Calyx, Dakotah, Kalliope, Kinesis, Manzanita Quarterly, Tributaries: a Journal of Nature Writing,VoiceCatcher, Written River as well as other anthologies and literary journals. Crow Feathers, Red Ochre, Green Tea, her first book of poems was released from Hiraeth Press this past autumn. She serves as the manager of interfaith Spiritual Care at Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center. Gwendolyn and Judy A. Rose, her partner, share their home with Abbey Skye, a rescued Pembroke Welsh Corgi. For more information, please visit her website.
Deseret, which, by interpretation,
Is a honeybee is the only
Word I ever learned in reformed Egyptian;
Utah is the land of milk and honey
According to the Book of Mormon. That’s why
We call ourselves the Beehive State. Our hives
Are full of matriarchal insects sweetly
Pollinating flowers, not sister wives,
And by our motto, “Industry”, we mean
We are like busy bees, and not that we
Stand in support of uncontrolled pollution
Released from factory farms or industry
Of that sort, never mind what the Deseret News
Reports about Utahns’ conservative views.
Amy Brunvand is a librarian, part time nature mystic and monthly contributor to Catalyst Magazine in Salt Lake City, Utah a.k.a. “The Beehive State”. Her recent poems have appeared in Red Savina Review, Journal of Wild Culture and Mom Egg Review. Some of her Catalyst articles can be found here: http://www.catalystmagazine.net/blogs/itemlist/user/72-amybrunvand
It has been over a year since the mass deaths of over 50,000 bumblebees in Wilsonville, due to an illegal application of Safari to flowering linden trees in a Target parking lot. It was the largest documented die-off of wild pollinators on record.
The shameful event in Wilsonville was the impetus for Winged. We ought to be deeply respectful of bumblebees and all pollinators that belong to the complex ecosystem of which we are but one small part. We ought to use sense and caution when legislating poisons, especially neonicotinoids, whose impact we don’t fully understand. We ought to take small steps every day to contribute to the renewed health of insects we say we love and don’t want to live without.
We’re remembering the day the bees died, and the beginning of this book. As we move toward project completion and publication, we are trying to keep bees of all kinds at the center of our work.
We the editors of Winged are deeply grateful for the plethora of high-quality writing we received during our open call for submissions, September 1-March 15. You’re helping us lay the foundations for what promises to be a beautiful book inside and out. We couldn’t be more grateful and inspired!
Many of you have asked, When will I hear back about my submission?
Right now, we’re giving each piece very careful consideration, and we promise to be in touch with you as soon as we can. When we extended our submission deadline to March 15th, we gave more writers the opportunity to submit their work, which meant pushing our notification deadline. We expect to be in touch with you before June 15th.
In the meantime, we hope you’re continuing to engage with pollinator conservation and celebration, both in the fields and on the page. Please visit our resources page for ways to get active in protecting pollinators and enjoying pollinators in art.
Do you have an upcoming event that supports pollinators or art-as-activism? Reach out to us via Twitter and Facebook. We’d love to help you spread the word.