Monday, January 03, 2011

"The Annotated Bee & Me" the title of a recent book of poetry by the Canadian poet Tim Bowling. The book was published by Gaspereau Press Limited in 2010. 

The presentation of the book – its cover, layout and illustrations - is extremely enticing. It’s a book you feel compelled to browse – and for just cause.

“The Annotated Bee & Me” is carefully architected creation, a series of poems that aggregate around “the large themes of our lives –Birth, Death, Time and Memory” (a quote from the volume’s back cover) and an original poetic topic: beekeeping.

The idea of the book may have originated on ‘one oyster-colored winter afternoon” as the author found a family memento: his great aunt’s chapbook which was "a lighthearted, whimsical, occasionally dark, memoir” of the family’s beekeeping adventures in Alberta.

The poems grow out from a strong sense of family bonds grafted unto a bee’s universe, from which a tapestry of multiple registers and meticulously crafted narrations emerges. They read as a musical composition, with metaphors and sub-themes crisscrossing each other in various episodes.

Here is the beginning:

“The provenance is intimate, contained within a family,
The annotation is intimate, contained within a language.
The subject is not intimate, its is not contained,
as death does not contain the dead”

and some beautiful passages from it:

“A man is hammering a cabinet, a hive,
a coffin for the ineffable.”

“you must serve to survive, embalm in propolis
the corpse of the mouse, repel the robber bees,
kill the drones, scour the nectar,
comes a day when you get off at the floor
of your life and there’s no way up or down, no buttons
no cables, no great-grandparents named William and
Susannah, no city of grey streets and strip malls
to stagger into, dazed…”

“The Annotated Bee & Me” is a poetry book worth reading.

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