Friday, May 20, 2016

If Bees Are Few: A Hive of Bee Poems, edited by James P. Lenfestey

Publisher description: An anthology of 2,500 years of poetry, from Sappho to Sherman Alexie, humming with bees, at a moment when the beloved honey makers and pollinators are in danger of disappearing. Virgil wrote of bees, as did Shakespeare, Burns, Coleridge, Emerson, and Whitman, among many others. Amid the crisis befalling bees—hives collapsing, wild species disappearing—the poems collected here speak with a quiet urgency of a world lost if bees were to fall silent. A portion of the proceeds from this anthology will be donated to support research at the Bee Lab in the Department of Entomology at the University of Minnesota.

I enjoy poetry and am worried about the status of bees, so this anthology of poems about bees intrigued me. The fact that some of the proceeds will benefit the Bee Lab alone makes it a worthwhile endeavor.

Some of the poems are focused on bees; in other poems, the bees are merely background. Some poems are long and lyrical, and others are  short and modern and to the point about vanishing bees. As usual with anthologies, some of the poems spoke to me and some did not. My three favorite poems were Two New World Bees by John Caddy, Bumblebee in the Basement by James Silas Rogers, and the pedigree of honey by Emily Dickinson:
The pedigree of honey
Does not concern the bee;
A clover, any time, to him
Is aristocracy.
If you enjoy reading poetry written by a variety of poets over thousands of years of human history, you might enjoy dipping in to If Bees Are Few. Be prepared to crave some honey!

I read a digital advance reader copy of If Bees Are Few. It will be published on May 30 and will be available in the new nonfiction section of the Galesburg Public Library.

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