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.
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.”
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.
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.
Melissa Reeser Poulin and Jill McKenna Reed
Editors, Winged: New Writing on Bees
Two tires roll the narrow trail, raveling a knobbed line of stitches on the curving dirt.
Shafts of sun brush past evergreens.
His legs pump and the bike thrums, barrel-chested, like the colony of honeybees hived inside the wall behind their bed.
Last spring they watched, delighted, as the garden buzzed with activity.
She told him not to mind when drones began to slip past gapped shingles.
The bees had, along with the sweet-peas and sunflowers, taken root.
Once he had called it waste, all that honey hidden far from taste.
She had stilled him with a finger, a flick of her eyebrows telling him to listen.
Her eyes and teeth had flashed in the dark as she grinned at the nearby sound of industry. Now, nearly home, he watches their house snap into substance between trunks.
A child might have drawn it with crayon: square topped by triangle, four windows, gray smoke looping into sharp blue sky.
His tongue rafts the valley between the ridges of his molars.
He touches a flat spot—a cavity newly filled—that remains unfamiliar.
The bike is hung from its front tire on a hook beneath the back eaves.
From the floor—where he sits to tug shoes and socks from dirt-caked legs—he sees her dancing near the sink, slicing greens in time.
He pads past, touching her waist.
When the noise of hot water stops, she pours two fingers of bourbon into two tumblers.
The smell of soap announces him.
She asks him to ready the table.
After bowls and forks, he tips flame to wicks, and the wicks coax wax into a heated dance.
He unfolds the story of sunlight fingers smoothing, smoothing ponderosa hair.
Once, months earlier, she had said she could taste them tasting it—told him that in her mind she’d mapped the mellow fruitfulness of the brimming cells: each from a different flower, each with a different flavor.
Nine candles burn while she and he dine inside the only light for a mile or more, twinned.
Near their bed in the other room, nectar sweetens unseen.
Who can know what might be established when the darkness is sufficient.
David Jacobsen lives and writes in central Oregon with his wife and two sons. His pieces can be found in various journals and anthologies, and he is the author of Rookie Dad: Thoughts on First-Time Fatherhood. As D. R. Jacobsen, he is a contributing writer, most recently to The Truest Thing About You. He holds master’s degrees in theology and creative writing and can be reached through his website, jacobsenwriting.com.