A gift to help pollinators

Honey bee by Daniela Molnar

While you’re drawing up your final holiday to-do list, maybe whipping something up at the sewing machine or on the stovetop, consider adding Winged to your shopping list.

It’s easy: all you have to do is click on the PayPal link to the right. If you’re in Oregon or California, you can also find Winged at these locations. And we’re now available on Etsy.

This book makes a great gift for the people in your life who love bees, gardening, good food, sustainability, and most of all– great writing.

Plus, it’s a gift that gives back.

Any profits from book sales will be donated to the conservation efforts of these three pollinator-friendly non-profits. Please visit their websites to learn more about their important work.

The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Protection

Spikenard Honeybee Sanctuary

Bees for Development

Thank you for supporting Winged and telling your friends about it! Enjoy the holidays!

Letter After Achilles, an excerpt from an essay by Stefanie Trout

I.

May 2, 2013

Dear Bees,

I feel I must apologize. I’m new to this apian life, and I regret not thinking of you first when Achilles came to Iowa. The cold air settled on my exposed back this morning, and I awoke from the chill. Snow shrouded the world outside my window, colonizing the tree branches like arctic lichen. Today, the snow didn’t fall simply down. It fell east and west, north and south. It blew up, buoyed by the wind.

Yesterday they warned us this storm was coming. They, who attempt to prophesy these kinds of events. They, who termed this record-breaking storm Achilles. I wonder how deeply they who selected the name understood its history. I wonder if they knew the word’s etymological origin—akhos laos, “the grief of the people.” I wonder if the name made them think of Homer or Brad Pitt. And I wonder if there is a slain hero Hector out there whose wimpy brother Paris will summon all of Apollo’s courage to save us from this storm with his arrow.

I would have been more concerned with you, dearest bees, if I had believed the forecasters, but I was in denial. Impatient. Just two days ago, I pulled the canvas bag out from under my bed, the bag with swimsuits and sandals and other articles of clothing that reveal more skin than they cover, packed with a strip of cedar to keep everything fresh. Two days ago, I donned a tank top and shorts. I bared my pale skin to the bright sun, and I sweat in the eighty-degree afternoon.

I was embarrassed about showing so much skin after having spent so long covering it up, and I have more skin now than I did the last time I wore these clothes. I have more skin than I’ve ever had before—more breasts, more stomach, more hips, more ass, more thigh. I have what I’ve always been teased for not having: meat on my bones. My boyfriend—as much as I hate the juvenile sound of the word, that’s what he is—doesn’t mind the extra flesh. I know I probably shouldn’t mind it either, but I do. I’d had the same body for a decade, and I no longer recognize the vessel that contains me. But I was done covering it up and content to pick up more sun and more fresh warm air on account of my increased surface area.

This morning, however, my body only picked up cold, pushing against me on all sides as Achilles bore down on Ames, Iowa. Sleeping next to the window was lovely in the summer when my boyfriend—just a roommate back then—and I moved in and arranged the furniture. I would wake up to sunshine and, when I left the window open for the night, birdsong and bursts of fragrant foliage. I woke up to the signs of life. It was like a Disney movie or a transcendentalist celebration of the world’s glory. But through the long winter, it has felt like sleeping in front of a walk-in freezer with the door ajar because of a faulty latch.

The air coming off the window tells me how much clothing I will need before I’m ready to face the world. This morning, the cool air told me to wear all of the clothes—or at least all of the warm ones I haven’t grown out of. (It’s a funny thing, “growing out of ” clothes at twenty-eight years old instead of just wearing them out like usual.) The bag of bikinis and skimpy shorts that probably won’t fit anyway will have to go back under the bed for now.

From the window, the snow looks soft and quiet just as all snow appears from afar. It tumbles off the branches more quickly than usual, though, falling fast like fat white tears. Once I ventured outside, I found the snow neither soft nor quiet. The temperature hovers just above freezing, so the snow does not drift as gentle flakes but rather drops as airborne slush, pockmarking the white carpet upon impact. The fat white tears cannonball into puddles on the street. They collided with my head like well-guided slush missiles. Moisture beaded on my glasses; my vision blurred.

And at that moment, I finally thought of you, dearest honeybees. It hasn’t been a week since we in the recently-formed Bluff Creek Bee Club released you into your new hives at the Casey Land. If we had anticipated the arrival of Achilles, we might have waited for calmer skies. But by the time the storm was foretold, it was too late. If your colonies were already well established I wouldn’t be so concerned about the weather. If you survive this storm and the summer that must eventually follow it, you will winter out-of-doors at the Casey Land. By then, hopefully, you will be strong. A superorganism adapted for life on all continents save Antarctica, your species has survived cruel weather before. But right now, your queens are fresh out of the cage. You are all just starting to get to know one another and your roles in and outside of the hive. And I worry.

I want to save you from Achilles, but leaving you alone is the only way I can help right now. I hope you huddle close in your hives the next few days, ranks closed around your respective queens, shivering to raise your body temperatures. I know you can keep warm as long as you have food. I hope you conserved your sugar-water wisely, stretching the reserve until Achilles has gone and the air is safe for us to open your hives again for a top off.

Since you’re probably (hopefully) tucked away in your hives, you likely haven’t had a look at the world outside. It’s strangely beautiful. I hadn’t realized how green and vibrant the grass had become until it was silhouetted against bright white slush. As courageous and ambitious as any Trojan, the grass fights back against the spring snowstorm, radiating the energy of life and thawing the dimpled snow before it even stops falling. Put another way, it looks as if all of Ames has been TP-ed by some angsty teenagers just before a downpour, the soggy tissue torn through by raindrops to reveal glimpses of the verdant landscape beneath. Somewhere, a bird sings. Though I can’t identify the species, I think I know the words to its song.

I promise to write again soon.

Yours truly,

Stef

 

III.

May 4, 2013

Dear Tallgrass Prairie,

The snow melts in the spring sun, dissolving into dewy grass. Good news for bees.

The bees’ home at the Everett Casey Nature Center and Reserve is seventy-six acres straddling Bluff Creek. Five years ago, 1946 Iowa State Engineering alum Everett Casey gifted the land, valued at $201,000, to the English Department for use by the Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing and Environment. Why he did this, I’ll never know for sure. Casey cited an excellent writing class that he took at ISU for an explanation. A single class. I like to think that it was for me and others like me in the MFA program. Casey was from Detroit—not too far away from my own birthplace and childhood homes in West Michigan. I like to think that Mr. Casey knew about my type. That we would need a piece of wildness to be able to make Iowa home. I know it sounds selfish, but I like to think he reserved this place for me and others like me so that we never forget the privilege we have to live on this land.

As you know, the property should be carpeted with tall prairie grass—as should the majority of Iowa. Forty percent of the United States was once covered in you, my dear Tallgrass Prairie, but Iowa led the rest of the union with the largest percentage of its land area devoted to the native grasses. A sea of grass that can be just as disorientingly awe-inspiring as the open ocean or, something I’m more familiar with, a Great Lake. Your beauty has always been subtler than that of other landscapes. You hid much of your treasure underground, in your amazing, complex root system that held the wet, rich soils in place.

Now Iowa leads the race to the bottom—with more than 99.9% of its natural landscape gone, replaced by a system governed by drainage tiles and an excessive amount of chemicals. Thirty million acres of big and little bluestem, Indiangrass, and switchgrass—all plowed under to make room for cornfields. The hardy stalks grow taller than men. Their ears boast hundreds of kernels arranged in tidy rows like widgets on a factory line, packaged efficiently in a husk and swaddled in long blonde silk for safer shipping and handling. Eight thousand years of prairie legacy disappeared, so Americans can get fat on soft drinks and corn-fed cattle.

I prefer to get fat on honey.

I miss you.

Love,

Stef

 

V.

May 10, 2013

Dear Casey Land,

At last, the skies are calm enough to expose the hives to the elements. Emerging apiarists pile into a van and set out to visit you. We must check on our bees—make sure the queens are still alive and the workers are building comb for brood. We must replenish the sugar-water. Soon the bees will feed themselves.

We burn scraps of burlap in the smoker, pumping the bellows to fuel the fire. Standing to the side of the first hive, we puff smoke into the openings. The smoke calms the bees, so they won’t attack us. We lift the outer cover, give them more smoke, and then remove the inner cover to reveal the built-up frames. Right now, the hives are short—with only the lower deep in place. The lower deep is the brood chamber, where the queen lays her eggs. Soon we will add the upper deep—the food chamber—and a few weeks after that, a queen excluder and a shallow honey super. We don’t expect to harvest much honey this year, but we’re optimistic that we’ll each get to taste the sweet products of the humming hives. For now, however, we just hope our colonies survive. Between Varroa mites, the mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder, and now the bizarre weather, our bees face much adversity.

We pull out frames for inspection and find our girls have been busy despite the chill. They built extra comb between the frames, too much comb in places, and a large piece of the hexagonal wax breaks off and falls into the hive. A brave beekeeper sticks her gloveless hand into the depths of the chamber and pulls out the fallen chunk, covered on all sides with bees. There’s no way to glue the brood comb back together, so we gently brush the bees off and back into the hive. We save the piece as a souvenir. Later, on the drive back to Ames, we’ll notice the tiny rice-like eggs the queen has laid in each cell. Since we will be too inexperienced at this point to recognize the queen among the crowd of workers and drones, the presence of eggs serve as our proof that Her Highness is alive and performing her royal duties.

We shift some frames around, moving the heavily built-up frames toward the outside and moving the barer frames toward the middle, the heart of the hive where the queen lays her eggs—as many as two thousand per day. We refill the sugar-water, close up the hive, and proceed to complete the same tasks with the second hive.

The business of our visit taken care of, we decide to enter your lovely forest to look for blooming wildflowers. Evidence of the early prairie restoration efforts is apparent—most of the invasive species we lopped off in the fall have failed to sprout back. We all wish it could have been accomplished without the aid of Roundup, but unfortunately it’s our only effective weapon against the intruders. If we want you to look natural again, we will have to take some unnatural measures. That’s what I’m told anyway, and though it feels wrong in my gut, I listen to those with experience because I know they hate how toxic our environment is too.

We hike down the steep hill, the trail newly widened, through invading cedars and into the oak forest, past the agricultural field recently converted from corn rows to oats in preparation for alfalfa planting—your only source of income and now on its way toward becoming a much better source of nutrition for the bees—until we reach Bluff Creek. The fast water fills the channel more completely than we’ve ever seen. Our feeble rock bridges have been submerged by the snowmelt, creating exciting riffles.

No longer a stagnant, desiccated remnant, the creek rushes nobly. We straighten our spines, pull back our shoulders, and beam like proud parents. We made this, we think, but like proud parents, we’re wrong.

As you well know, Bluff is a meandering sort of creek, and we follow its winding way downstream to the sandy point bar that demarcates the edge of the property. Though our English Department holds your deed, we stewards don’t like to think of owning you. You aren’t our property. You’ve been home to all varieties of native and invasive flora and fauna, and now that includes a pair of honeybee colonies, but please don’t get the wrong idea. This kind of colonialism is rather different than the kind you might be apprehensive about.

On our way back to the van, we lose ourselves in your woods. We unknowingly follow what is most likely a deer path forking off our main trail. Hopping the barbed wire fence could be our first clue that we are losing track of where you end and the neighboring land begins. An arbitrary line, yes, but still legally significant.

We emerge from the woods on the edge of a freshly planted field and follow it toward the road hoping to see our hives just around the bend. We don’t.

So we reenter the woods, no longer on any path at all, blazing our own trail that includes crawling under and climbing over fallen trees. We shinny down a gully, hop the muddy bottom, and scramble up the other side. We scale another barbed wire fence—a promising sign—and emerge from the woods again. This time, we see the white hives and know that we are home.

On the van ride back to Ames, we find ticks all over our bodies. Another souvenir. Thanks for that.

Respectfully,

Stefanie Brook Trout

IX.

May 31, 2013

Dear Bees,

This morning we—my boyfriend, Lily, and I—are finally running. For me, it’s the first time in seven years. Seven years ago, I ran the Detroit Marathon on a relay team to raise money for a summer camp for kids with heart problems. My leg was only six miles, a lazy day for a marathon runner, but it was longer than I’d ever run before, and I found out later that it could have killed me.

I ran for my nephew Dominick, who was too young to attend summer camp yet but had needed two heart surgeries in his first year. I knew I had a congenital heart problem too, but I hadn’t known how serious it was when I had agreed to run the relay. I found out four years later, when Dr. Sheik diagnosed me with an atrial septal defect, a hole in my heart two centimeters in diameter that allowed the blood from my left and right atria to slosh back and forth at will, sullying up the whole system of veins and arteries and valves and vena cavae that work diligently to keep oxygenated and deoxygenated blood from mixing.

Dr. Sheik plugged the hole in my heart without taking a scalpel to my chest and, after a few months, cleared me for strenuous physical activity. But I was terrified to ever run again. I’ve gained twenty-five pounds since the surgery. I blamed it on my new birth control, my busyness with graduate school, my laziness. Now, running through Ames with my boyfriend beside me, Lily leading and wishing I could go faster, I feel my heart rate quicken and the subsequent anxiety, and I know that it was fear that kept me inert. I had a new heart, and I was afraid to stress it too hard. I didn’t want to go through all of that again.

Running, I feel my heart beating, thrumming its chord of life through my body, awakening my senses. My heart might have been faulty at first, but my skeleton is built for running. All that I am rests on two long legs. As a teenager I once wore hot pink skinny jeans to the zoo, and my sister, who lives in California and hasn’t seen me in the past year, still calls me a flamingo. My thighs never used to touch, but they’re rubbing now, which is inconvenient but really not a big deal. The fresh air fills my lungs with a forgotten power. The extra flesh is cold, but I am warm.

I will come for a visit tomorrow.

Faithfully yours,

Stef

This excerpt appears with permission of the author. “Letter After Achilles” appears in its entirety in the anthology Prairie Gold: An Anthology of the American Heartland (Ice Cube Press 2014). Purchase a copy here.

 Images via: Unsplash and Beekeeping Wikia

StefStef at Caseyanie Brook Trout explores the dynamic interactions between people and their surroundings through all genres of writing. A candidate in Iowa State University’s interdisciplinary Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing and Environment, Stefanie is the communications assistant for the Leopold for Sustainable Agriculture, the MFA student coordinator for the Everett Casey Nature Center and Reserve, and a member of both AgArts and the Bluff Creek Bee Club. She co-edited Prairie Gold: An Anthology of the American Heartland, which was published by Ice Cube Press in July 2014. More at http://stefaniebrooktrout.com

Stefanie writes: “I wrote “Letters after Achilles” during and in the immediate aftermath of a snowstorm that hit Iowa May 2, 2013–less than two weeks after the Bluff Creek Bee Club had established our first honeybee hives. Our colonies survived that storm. Unfortunately, they did not survive this past winter–Iowa’s coldest in 35 years–so we [started] all over this spring. “

Osmia Messiah, a poem by Gregg Kleiner

Osmia_ribifloris_beeOsmia Messiah

What must it feel
like 
to be puttied over
in such a small space,
sealed off by your mother’s kiss
of saliva and clay
from the elements and sunlight,
tucked in tight
through winter dark
inside a hole so ordinary
it might well be overlooked
or misconceived as a miniature tomb
until something—

the planet’s tilt and turn?
the blooming of brighter light?
the pull of pear blossoms in warm rain?

somehow tells you the time is right
to emerge from this plugged place
and take flight
on your still-damp wings
oh shiny black mason bee
no larger than a housefly,
oh solitary pollinator
with no bold yellow bands
or loud buzz,
oh patient and humble savior?

Kleiner-Author-Photo-webGregg Kleiner‘s novel Where River Turns to Sky (HarperCollins, 1999) was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award and the Paterson Fiction Prize. “Please Don’t Paint Our Planet Pink!,” his first book for children – and their adults!, is about climate change and asks the question, “What might happen if we could SEE CO2 in the atmosphere?”His work has appeared in OrionThe SunOregon Quarterly, and elsewhere. Read more at greggkleiner.com

Image: Wikimedia Public Domain

Worth Looking At, A Found Poem by Sonja Johanson

Redo

 

Laughing –
she opened her mouth.
The sun,
a tousled stand of yellow
climbed
in oratorical motion.

The first clear night after
the storm
presaged a kind of change.
Alder buds
began to burnish green; it was
bee season.

Source text; 1935 Pulitzer Prize novel Honey in the Horn, H.L. Davis

Sonja-14SmallSonja Johanson attended College of the Atlantic, in Bar Harbor, ME. She currently serves as the training coordinator for the Massachusetts Master Gardener Association. Her work appears in journals including the Albatross, Dandelion Farm, Referential Magazine, and Shot Glass Poetry, and she was a participating writer in the Found Poetry Review’s 2013 Pulitzer Remix Project. Sonja divides her time between work in Massachusetts and her home in the mountains of western Maine.

“Just to be a bee”: An Essay by Jo Vance

Humans have set the realm of nature too far away. Emily Dickinson teaches me this. She sits beside me on the bench and tells me to look down at the bees in the grass. She points to the housewife in the ruddy sky.

Emily tells me that we have set a boundary at the space where the wall meets the outside air, where the door opens to the porch, where the shelter we have built keeps us from the elements we do not control. But her poetry defies this imposed line between humans and nature. By blurring the distinction between outer and inner worlds, natural and domestic, her lyrics disorder our definition of home. What does it mean to dwell within the world as a human being who is only a part of a whole? What does it mean to consider that it is a home for more than humanity?

PA020393

I am a single bead of water on the “trembling web of being.”

Denise Levertov wrote that line in her essay on poetry and prophecy. Love of the world means openness. It means expansion rather than constriction. It means writing poems that are not necessarily welcome in your cultural milieu. It means acting out with your life what you say on the page. It means “a poetry of peace, a poetry of protest, of lament, of praise for the living earth; a poetry that demands justice, renounces violence, reveres mystery.” In order to write out of this engaged stance, the poet must be willing to trace “the interdependence of all things” in order to “reveal that unity, that trembling web of being” that underlies the world in which we live. And his or her poetry must reflect that web of being, working to connect, to manifest belief that there is no separation between humans, our actions, and the world we call our home.

Emily was a prophet. Quiet, volcanic, drawing connections between this and this in order to see. Although she wasn’t standing in the town square of Amherst, making her proclamations, she was writing a long letter to the world over the course of her life. And she meant for us to read this letter. It was her life’s work to discover and ponder the world; it was her life’s work to be faithful to her visions, which she left for us in her bedroom: all those tiny books, sewn up with thread, ready for discovery.

487px-Black-white_photograph_of_Emily_Dickinson_(Restored)

One vision of Emily’s that stays with us is her fondness for bees, which must stem from those countless days spent in her beloved garden. Bees appear again and again in her poems – from the bee “shod with Gauze” and helmeted with gold to the bee brewing “a honey’s weight.” Even the bee is invoked as a member of a holy trinity, one familiar to all who sit outside on a spring day: “In the name of the Bee – / And of the Butterfly – / And of the Breeze – Amen!” She writes that “Of Nature I shall have enough / When I have entered these / Entitled to a Bumble bee’s / Familiarities.” Emily desires to be a member of the world that we often overlook – to meet the intricacy of a flower’s pistils, to bump against the underside of a tulip’s petal. To enter this world is the greatest union she could wish.

Throughout her poetry, she seeks out the particulars. To take part in the small means everything. Nature is not a grand spectacle, or somewhere out there far away. Nature is as close as the bee in the flower next to her hand; it is as close as her desire to become the bee that enters the flower.

I look to Emily as my guide, she who prophesies and explores the consciousness not only of human beings but also of flowers, bees, bodies of water, hills, storms, and trees. Her work underscores the truth that the world of nature is ours and that it possesses us, too. There is no separation, no boundary.

And if no separation, I must imagine myself in many places and as many creatures, and wish, like Emily, “‘But just to be a Bee’ / Upon a Raft of Air / And row in Nowhere all Day long.” And if I imagine myself differently, if I see myself as possessing a bee’s consciousness, alive in the wind, ready to visit the clover – then I can finally understand that to destroy a bee, or anything of this earth, also destroys me.

 

Photo on 2013-01-24 at 19.21 #2

 

 

Jo Vance lives and writes in Seattle, Washington, where she also strives to have a garden like Emily’s. She received her MFA from Seattle Pacific University’s creative writing program, and is currently at work on a book of essays.

 

 

 

Images

Top: Yard at Emily Dickinson MuseumPhoto by Jo Vance.
Middle: Wikimedia commons
Bottom: Photo by Jo Vance

For We Do Not Know How to Pray, A Poem by Travis Poling

For We Do Not Know How to Pray

“but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words” – Saint Paul

 

Worker bees fly in from the field and dance the story of nectar: antennae circling,
abdomen humming. When I was a boy I had seizures and my body forgot how to speak;
in my silence, I rubbed buttercup pollen on my cheeks, tied dandelions into ropes.

In Russia, monks wander wordless through forests, praying for mercy with chotkis,
begging for honey from bees. One gospel says Jesus’ mouth was anointed with honey
right as the heavens ripped open, before he was silent for forty days.

The first time I stood before the altar, breaking the honey-wheat bread of Christ’s body,
my whole body trembled. I was speechless.

If you ever lost the capacity to speak, would you dance like the honey bee—
pointing your people to the wild, wild nectar of endless yellow blossoms?

 

____________________________________________________

 

Poling Travis

 

Travis Poling is a poet, liturgist, and teacher living in Richmond, Indiana.
His work has appeared in various journals and anthologies, and a self-published
chapbook. He edits the William Stafford Online Reader and blogs at travispoling.com.
Recently he collaborated with artist Craig Goodworth in “Vcela,” a liturgical installation
exploring the honey bee in ecological and spiritual traditions.

 

Visit http://staffordreader.com/

Whitney Nye, Daniela Molnar, and Pattie Baker: Pollinators in Visual Art

 

 

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Winged is a literary anthology, and we’re excited to feature written work about humans and bees from a wide range of artists. But there are also many artists creating visual work in response to pollinators– their beauty, their industry, and the unfolding story of their decline. While we can’t include visual art in our printed anthology, we want to feature it here. Below, the stories behind three artists and their paintings.
*
Whitney Nye’s work as a visual artist draws on pattern, texture, and movement.  She is especially interested in patterns of repetition, which is evident in her sensitive honeycomb-inspired canvas Honey, currently on display at the Portland Airport. Nye was gracious enough to let us showcase this piece on the blog, and she describes the process in detail below. For more on her work, please visit her website. Currently, she’s also at work on a fascinating collaborative project at the city dump: GLEAN. Nye and other participating artists are busy gleaning materials from the Metro Central Transfer Station, to make art that prompts others to think about their consumption habits. The finished work will be displayed this fall. Honey

 

Whitney writes:
“This piece titled ‘Honey’ is made from old sewing pattern tissue.  The pink section of the piece is colored with gouache, and the natural colored sections of the piece is the actual color of the tissue paper. The paper was then cut into circles and glued on one circle at a time.  The layering created a honeycomb-like pattern and reminded me of eating honeycomb when I was a child.  The process of collaging on such a large scale is somewhat difficult, physically getting into the middle of the panel.  I worked on this flat, over a period of a month or so.  A meditative and somewhat obsessive process.”
*
Daniela Molnar created the beautiful images of bees on our landing page and “About” page. Her generous, curious spirit has led her to create an impressive body of work that explores the intersections of art, culture, and nature. She’s an active public artist engaged in a wide range of solitary and collaborative projects, and she’s also a dedicated teacher. See more of her work here, and check out her upcoming project Summer Field Studies at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle. Below, she reflects on the story behind her piece Mimicry, Dispersal II.mimicry,-dispersal-II-web
Daniela writes: “This painting is part of a series that focuses on the fluid movement, as well as the precise structure of flowers. These works are both color field paintings and botanical studies, exploring how patterns in nature are perceived, named and understood. The works question habits of naming and perception — when is a flower no longer a flower? When does a flower cease to be a noun and become a verb? Envisioning nature as an interconnected process rather than a collection of distinct objects highlights the delicate web necessary to sustain the lives of all earth’s inhabitants, including bees.”
*
When Pattie Palmer Baker submitted work for Winged this winter, she wondered if we were also interested in visual art. A poet, collagist, and calligrapher, she told us about a piece she had created in response to last June’s Safari-related bee kill in Wilsonville. Her calligraphic style is based on the 8th century Carolingian alphabet and her paste paper process is adapted from a 17th century decorated paper technique. We’re grateful for Baker’s work and for her support of this project.
4. 50,000 Bumblebees Die_PattiePalmer-Baker-1
Pattie writes: “Earlier this year up to fifty thousand bumblebees were poisoned by an insecticide not to be used in the presence of bees. The image of the bumblebees falling, scrabbling, dying on the asphalt haunted me–  so much so that I wrote a poem and created two artworks to express my outrage and grief. Most of us are aware that the pollinating ability of bees is profoundly necessary, but personally and anthropomorphically I grieved because I see them as uniquely beautiful beings working unfailingly for the good of the many.”

Thank you!

MegNewellbee

Thank you to everyone who responded to our call for submissions, which closed on March 15th. We are SO inspired by your writing and your encouragement. Together, your words are powerful testimony to this moment in history, when humans have a chance to make a difference in the future of pollinators.

We’re reading every submission carefully and looking forward to being in touch with you later this spring. Winged will be printed in September 2014, and available for preorder in the coming months. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, we hope you’ll continue to respond to pollinator decline through your writing, your conversations, and your actions.

Alison Hawthorne Deming’s “Stairway to Heaven”

New York’s Hive City

Browsing poems online, we recenly ran across a beautiful example of how the metaphor-rich world of honey bees can lead writers into a wide range of subject matter.

In “Stairway to Heaven,” poet Alison Hawthorne Deming reflects on her brother’s battle with cancer and her own grief. Here are the opening lines:

The queen grows fat beneath my house
while drones infest the walls

 

reconnaissance to feed her glut,
wood ripped from studs and joists.

I’ll pay to drill the slab and ruin
her pestilential nest. How to find

the song in this day’s summons?

Of the composition process, Deming writes: “I can’t seem to stop carrying my brother around on my back since he died in May 2011. I think of the way Aeneas carried his father Anchises out of defeat, but the stuff of my days is all here on the horizontal plane: termites, cancer, Led Zeppelin, and my devotion to the animal world. These all fell together one day into this poem.”

Read the full poem at the Academy of American Poets.

Deadline Extended to March 15th

Dear friends,

Winged: New Writing on Bees has been awarded a grant from Oregon’s Regional Arts and Culture Council!

Due to this change, the timeline for Winged has altered. We are giving the project new scope, and extending the submission deadline to March 15th, 2014.

We are thrilled with, and humbled by, the submissions we have received so far. As a reminder, the submission window is currently open for poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, and mixed-genre work. We will happily consider both new and previously-published work, as long as the author holds full rights to that work. Profits from book sales will benefit pollinator conservation organizations such as The Xerces Society.

  • Please share information about Winged with friends and colleagues, either through social media, in classes, or by downloading our press release and informational flyer. Spreading the word means so much to us, and so much  for the project.
  • Submit your work! We offer the following considerations to help generate topics or concepts: the honey bee in history, bee symbolism in art, the European honey bee and native pollinators in North America, honey in ancient civilizations, communication via dance, the sounds of and in the hive, personal bee encounters, the bee in sacred literature, humans as pollinators, beekeeping around the world, declining bee populations, the future of beekeeping, a survey of bees in speculative fiction…

Winged is a project with a broader purpose: to create a literary and artistic record of this perilous moment in the relationship between humans and bees. Writers have employed bees and bee imagery for thousands of years, and we are now watching these important muses and symbols ailing, and declining.

No book like Winged currently exists, and much like a colony of bees, we cannot accomplish our goals alone. Whether it is by spreading the word about Winged, attending one of our upcoming events, or submitting your work, we hope you will take this opportunity to help cultivate our growing project, one we believe in, and one we feel is vital for all.

Warmly,

Melissa Reeser Poulin and Jill McKenna Reed
Editors, Winged: New Writing on Bees